Perfectamundo album review

Concord Records

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Billy Gibbons, one of the most famous blues-rock guitarists to ever get on a stage, has produced his first solo album after 67 years of producing music. His album, entitled Perfectamundo, is an Afro-Cuban album that is a far cry from the music that he has produced in the past.

Gibbons got his start when he was 13-years-old and received his first electric guitar. By the time he was 18, he had started his first big band called The Moving Sidewalks. This band led him to meeting Jimi Hendrix, who he then went on tour with as the opening act. In 1969, he and two of his friends started ZZ Top, which was inducted into the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame in 2004 and has sold over 25 million albums total to date. The popular reality television show Duck Dynasty even used their song “Sharp Dressed Man” for the show’s theme song.

Drawing heavy influence from the blues rock and hard rock music scenes, people didn’t expect Gibbons to stray from his usual sound for his debut solo album. So when he came out with a sound completely different than the music he has been producing his entire career, critics were not quick to accept Gibbons’ change.

It turns out that this is not new to Gibbons. Before he ever picked up a guitar, he studied Latin drums in Manhattan with the “Mambo King” himself, Tito Puente. Puente was a friend of his dad’s, and taught him the basics of latin rhythm – the congos, bongos, maracas and timbales. Gibbons uses all of these in his album; in fact, he plays everything on the album. The only reason he has the backing band (named The BFGs) is for live performances on the upcoming album tour.

The album starts with a cover of Slim Harpo’s “Got Love if You Want It.” Gibbons stays true to the original Louisiana blues sound, but throws in a few more drums and guitar solos. I expected the drums to overpower the melody of the song, but that was not the case at all. If anything, his two-minute-long guitar solo at the end of the song deviated from Harpo’s Louisiana blues sound.

The next two songs were my favorite on the album. “Treat Her Right” had me tapping my foot, and although the synth sounded strange with the bluesy sound of the song, the rest of the song was a tune that I would put on my favorites playlist. “Sal Y Pimento” was the first song that he wrote on the album, and literally translated it means “Salt and Pepper” in Spanish. This is the first song that he sings entirely in Spanish, and the fact that this song inspired him to write an entire album is evident. The “Spanglish” song starts with his classic blues sound, but slides effortlessly into the rock guitar and blues riffs that Gibbons is famous for.

“You’re What’s Happening” is a song that needs to be listened to with headphones on; there’s a bass build up in the beginning that is engineered to sound like you’re listening to Gibbons play live. The song then turns into a strange Latin/Hip-Hop song. I’m not saying that I don’t like it, I’m just saying that I never expected to hear Gibbons rap. “You’re What’s Happening” is very similar to “Hombre Sin Nombre” in that they both sound more like Miami club tunes rather than Afro-Cuban like the album was supposed to be. “Hombre Sin Nombre” opens with a delta slide and then moves onto greasy bass and dynamic percussion that really set it apart from the other songs on the album. Both songs, however, rely much too heavily on auto-tuning. It’s not like Gibbons needs auto-tune, he’s proved throughout his entire career that just his guitar and raspy vocals are enough to draw fans from everywhere, but the songs still use it enough that they can be likened to Cher’s “Believe” – a song spurred the creation of the phrase “The Cher Effect” to refer to an overuse of auto-tune.

In fact, many of the songs have a clubby glitz that does not reflect the Afro-Cuban or Blues music that Gibbons was going for in the album. Songs like “Quiero Mas Dinero,” “Pickin’ Up Chicks on Dowling Street” and the title track “Perfectamundo” all have Gibbons warbling the lyrics to the song which detracts from the entire purpose of the album; to show off Gibbons’ percussion skills.

While it is refreshing to see that Gibbons’ creative juices are still flowing, sometimes artists need to know when to stop. A couple of the tracks on this album were good, but those were mostly the ones that included his many years of experience with blues rock and his secret talent for the Afro-Cuban genre. I think this is what he intended the entire album to sound like, but somewhere along the way a producer decided that Gibbons needed excessive auto-tuning and the album went downhill from there.

The Parkway West Pathfinder gives Billy Gibbons’ Perfectamundo a 5.0/10