I was out at a record show in Charlotte and was digging through the crates when I came across a 12″ Maxi-Single of ZZ Top’s song “Legs”. Who doesn’t want a “special dance mix” of that song. I had to have it especially since it was not the album mix. I love finding the non-album versions of the songs. I quickly snatched it up and here we are now doing a post.
The song is off the band’s multi-platinum, 1983 album “Eliminator”. This album, along with this song, put ZZ Top in to the stratosphere of success. And really we have MTV to thank as ZZ Top fully embraced the video concept and they did a trilogy of videos with these powerful women driving around in the classic 1933 Ford Coupe and it was stunning, just like the women.
“Legs” went Top 40 going all the way to #8 and saw the band incorporate electronic elements and new wave sounds in to their music. This was the first time that the band embrace synthesizers and electronic drum machines and if I’m not mistaken the bass and drums that were recorded for the song were actually replaced by the electronic equipment. I wonder how that went over the Hill and Beard.
My copy of the single is the standard U.S. 12″ Maxi-Single that included the “Special Dance Mix” of the song “Legs” and the B-Side was the album version of the song “La Grange” from the album ‘Tres Hombres’ from 1983. It is weird to think that this Texas Blues Rock Band would have a “Dance Mix” of a song, but in the 80’s, anything was possible. It was a dramatic change for the band that brought them a completely new audience. To think, these guys were old as far as the MTV generation was concerned, but they somehow pulled off a miracle thanks to videos and brought a fun, good time rock & roll vibe to the audience and they ate it up.
The “Special Dance Mix” of “Legs” is a really long track at 7:48. The real song is in their but they extended parts, added so many dance beats, electronic drum sounds and synthesizers noises that it turns it in to a rather different track. At least you still have Gibbons guitar and his killer riffs and great vocals. I read somewhere that described the genre of this mix as Tex-Mex Latin Dance and I am not sure that is how I would describe it as I don’t hear any real latin influence. It is really just a bunch of beeps and blips and drum beats mixed in to the song that we love to make it sound “dance” and doesn’t really make me want to run out to the dance floor. It is a perfectly good way to screw-up a great song.
The smart move on the band was to include an old classic ZZ Top track as the B-Side. With this brand new audience, this gave them the perfect time to re-introduce their older catalog and hopefully increase sales on the older albums which I believe did happen. The B-Side chose for this was the song “La Grange” from the 1973 album “Tres Hombres”. The song is a traditional blues rock song done in that Boogie Blues style. The groove was taken from John Lee Hooker’s “Boogie Chillin'” and Slim Harpo’s “Shake Your Hips”. The “A how-how-how” line was also lifted from the John Lee Hooker song “Boom Boom”. Yes, they stole from the best. If I am not mistaken, they were sued for using the “Boogie Chillin” song but it was ruled that the song was now in public domain.
It is a catchy ass-groove and pure blues rock and roll at its best. Billy Gibbons sounds so scruffy, tough and cool as he confidently and cooly spits out the lyrics. The guitar riff chuggs along and Frank Beard lays down some great fills and his drumming is key to impact of the song. Dusty Hill’s bass adds to the groove giving it the extra punch. To me this song is the essence of cool. And if you are interested, the song is about a brothel just outside LaGrange, Texas which the movie “The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas” was based.
And there you have it. Another cool find in the Single collection and the ever growing 12″ Single collection at as well. Thanks for stopping by and we will see you next week for another find.