- An outstanding copy of Tres Hombres with solid Double Plus (A++) sound or BETTER throughout
- This is the right sound for this album – take it from us, it is not easy to find a copy with the size, clarity, balance and energy of this vintage pressing
- A very difficult record to find with audiophile playing surfaces these days – this is one of the few “survivors” to have come our way over the last five years or so
- 4 1/2 stars: “ZZ Top finally got their low-down, cheerfully sleazy blooze-n-boogie right on this, their third album. As their sound gelled, producer Bill Ham discovered how to record the trio so simply that they sound indestructible, and the group brought the best set of songs they’d ever have to the table.”
If you have five or ten copies of a record and play them over and over against each other, the process itself teaches you what’s right and what’s wrong with the sound of the album. Once your ears are completely tuned to what the best pressings do well that the others do not do as well, using a few specific passages of music, it will quickly become obvious how well any given pressing reproduces those passages.
The process is simple enough. First, you go deep into the sound. There you find something special, something you can’t find on most copies. Now, with the hard-won knowledge of precisely what to listen for, you are perfectly positioned to critique any and all pressings that come your way.
This vintage London pressing has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records can barely BEGIN to reproduce. Folks, that sound is gone and it sure isn’t showing signs of coming back. If you love hearing INTO a recording, actually being able to “see” the performers, and feeling as if you are sitting in the studio with the band, this is the record for you. It’s what vintage all analog recordings are known for — this sound.
If you exclusively play modern repressings of vintage recordings, I can say without fear of contradiction that you have never heard this kind of sound on vinyl. Old records have it — not often, and certainly not always — but maybe one out of a hundred new records do, and those are some pretty long odds.
What the Best Sides of Tres Hombres Have to Offer Is Not Hard to Hear
- The biggest, most immediate staging in the largest acoustic space
- The most Tubey Magic, without which you have almost nothing. CDs give you clean and clear. Only the best vintage vinyl pressings offer the kind of Tubey Magic that was on the tapes in 1973
- Tight, note-like, rich, full-bodied bass, with the correct amount of weight down low
- Natural tonality in the midrange — with all the instruments having the correct timbre
- Transparency and resolution, critical to hearing into the three-dimensional studio space
No doubt there’s more but we hope that should do for now. Playing the record is the only way to hear all of the qualities we discuss above, and playing the best pressings against a pile of other copies under rigorously controlled conditions is the only way to find a pressing that sounds as good as this one does.
What We’re Listening For on Tres Hombres
Less grit – smoother and sweeter sound, something that is not easy to come by on any vintage ZZ Top record. Whatever they are selling on Heavy Vinyl these days is surely smoother, and more than likely has no top end or upper midrange to speak of.
We find that sound insufferable, but the bulk of the audiophile public seems to have no problem with it. We assume that those of you who come to our site feel the same way, and you can be sure that we would never offer you a record with sound that bad.
A bigger presentation – more size, more space, more room for all the instruments and voices to occupy. The bigger the speakers you play this record on the better.
More bass and tighter bass. This is fundamentally a rock record. It needs weight down low to rock the way Terry Manning (and the band) wanted it to.
Present, breathy vocals. A veiled midrange is the rule, not the exception.
Good top end extension to reproduce the harmonics of the instruments and details of the recording including the studio ambience.
Last but not least, balance. All the elements from top to bottom should be heard in harmony with each other. Take our word for it, assuming you haven’t played a pile of these yourself, balance is not that easy to find. Our best copies will have it though, of that there is no doubt.
Waitin’ For The Bus
Jesus Just Left Chicago
Beer Drinkers & Hell Raisers
Master Of Sparks
Hot, Blue And Righteous
Move Me On Down The Line
Precious And Grace
Have You Heard?
AMG 4 1/2 Star Review
Tres Hombres is the record that brought ZZ Top their first Top Ten record, making them stars in the process. It couldn’t have happened to a better record.
ZZ Top finally got their low-down, cheerfully sleazy booze-n-boogie right on this, their third album. As their sound gelled, producer Bill Ham discovered how to record the trio so simply that they sound indestructible, and the group brought the best set of songs they’d ever have to the table.
On the surface, there’s nothing really special about the record, since it’s just a driving blues-rock album from a Texas bar band, but that’s what’s special about it. It has a filthy groove and an infectious feel, thanks to Billy Gibbons’ growling guitars and the steady propulsion of Dusty Hill and Frank Beard’s rhythm section. They get the blend of bluesy shuffles, gut-bucket rocking, and off-beat humor just right. ZZ Top’s very identity comes from this earthy sound and songs as utterly infectious as “Waitin’ for the Bus,” “Jesus Just Left Chicago,” “Move Me on Down the Line,” and the John Lee Hooker boogie “La Grange.” In a sense, they kept trying to remake this record from this point on — what is Eliminator if not Tres Hombres with sequencers and synthesizers? — but they never got it better than they did here.