April 1975: ZZ Top Release FANDANGO!

Tuesday, April 18, 2023

By 1975, ZZ Top had more than made their considerable presence felt on the America rock scene. The band's most recent LP at the time, third studio effort Tres Hombres, had climbed as high as #8 on the Billboard 200. ZZ Top's brash and uncompromising down and dirty boogie woogie had made them emerging stars, and Billy Gibbons, Frank Beard and Dusty Hill were ready to turn up the heat.

A famously incendiary live band, ZZ Top had the idea of bring that concert energy to the group's fourth full-length, Fandango! The album arrived with a unique format: the record's A side was loaded with live recordings, while the B side was populated with new studio music.

“The live capture wound up being in the can first," Gibbons told Music Radar in 2013. "We had enough live material to make up one side of the disc, so we decided to go with the unusual move of making the album half live, half studio. It turned out to be a winning combination for us."

The album's live side blasts out of the gate with "Thunderbird," a tune originally written by Dallas band The Nightcaps in 1960. Rounded out by a version of Elvis Presley favorite "Jailhouse Rock" and the "Backdoor Medley," the side captured the energy of ZZ Top's legendary live shows.

The new studio tunes were a clutch of classic ZZ Top, featuring "Nasty Dogs and Funky Kings" and the high-energy tribute to Mexican "border blaster" radio stations, "Heard It on the X." The most famous and successful of the new tunes, however, was the album's very last track, "Tush."

“One of the songs that we were playing at shows, another one of those ‘catch-it-in-three-minute’ tunes, was 'Tush,'" Gibbons explained. "We had gone down to Alabama, and it started to take shape with the riff. As for the lyrics, well, it’s not exactly Bob Dylan. [Laughs] That one we recorded in the studio.

“Tush felt good from a musician standpoint," Gibbons added. "But you know, you can never tell what’s going to be a hit or not. We were enjoying the recording experience, figuring out how to grab a moment and making it repeatable.”

The only single from Fandango!, "Tush" was an immediate hit on FM radio, with the hard-driving song crashing the top 20 of the Billboard Hot 100 with a peak position of #20 for the week of September 6, 1975 (the live version of "Tush" found on the Expanded Remaster 2006 version of Fandango! is an absolute monster).

Released April 18, 1975, Fandango! was another hit album for ZZ Top, roaring up the Billboard 200 to park at its peak position of #10 for the week of September 13, 1975.