Picks and Pans Review: Recycler

updated 12/03/1990 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 12/03/1990 AT 01:00 AM EST

ZZ Top

Oh boy. does that title tempt a reviewer.

The hirsute Texas trio say the album title refers to their renewed commitment to playing the blues. Sorry, boys, we're not falling for that sanctimonious puffery.

The title would refer more correctly to the fact that on the past two records, these guys have been grinding up stale riffs, dressing them up in videos with leggy blonds and fancy cars, and watching their albums go platinum. They may be rich and happy but Dusty. Frank and Billy have, in short, been recycling. (That crash you just heard was temptation being succumbed to.)

When they do get back to their blues roots on this album, the music shows some life. While the simple blues strut "My Head's in Mississippi" may be just a slower version of "La Grange." the ZZs at least play with some intensity instead of switching to cruise control. Billy Gibbons can also latch on to a gutsy lead guitar line every now and then and just about carry a song. But mediocrity usually reigns, with each tune barely discernible from the next.

Luckily, the guys have been spending their time in more productive ways. They've been drumming up support for a proposed new Delta Blues Museum (the present version is in a Clarksdale, Miss., library). Their next worthwhile cause, however, might be putting more inspiration into their next album. (Warner Bros.)

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