Best Wood: New ZZ vs Aero vs KISS

December 28, 2012 | By | 6 Replies More

Not sure whether classic-type rock is dead or what, but doesn’t seem to be much of it lately. Maybe laptops and Pro Tools killed the ability to record great woody tones – with frickin’ air around it, not every nano-slot of the sound spectrum filled up! – but I don’t think that’s it.

So when some new tunage comes out from a classic rock band, I’m stoked…and yet a bit afraid. I mean, will it sound good? Will the tunes be good? Or…?

Was with that attitude that I heard about and listened to the new ZZ Top, Aerosmith and KISS. Or actually:

> Was confident the ZZ boys would do it to it like they always do.

> Aerosmith was a crapshoot – would it be that gadawful co-written pop stuff, or would Joe and Brad slam some riffs into the band and hit the gas?

> KISS…well, much as I love Paul Stanley’s songwriting, Gene Simmons seems to have become a parody of his younger self. But Tommy Thayer’s Ace-ness and him-ness (loved his band Black ‘n Blue) definitely helps. In other words, I didn’t have high hopes, but wanted to hear Paul’s tunes and Tommy’s playing.

ZZ Top: Too Fuzzy

Straight off the top: I’m a HUGE ZZ Top and Rev. BFG fan. Huge. So when La Futura came out this year, I couldn’t wait to hear it…even with the involvement of the highly questionable Rick Rubin.

The Rev loves fuzz so I expected some of it, but not as much as I heard – or what sounds like it, at the expense of wood. Can’t tell if it’s fizzy fuzzy pedals or modern preamps or what, but I’m not hearing a lot of “bigness,” aka wood, aka air movement, aka volume.

May be the inability to record in a woody way anymore – because the ZZ fellas no doubt have the wood. Not sure if you can ooze wood, but if anyone can, they can.

Love the band and dig the album. Though somewhat bummed about the lack of air, lack of more boogie and what seems like a lot of mid-tempo, Fing-A it’s new Top.

One of my fave tunes. A boogie that lacks fuzz.


Aerosmith: NICE!

WTH happened here? We have a pop-oriented former (former former?) classic rock band with its lead singer on one of the most popular pop music TV shows of all time and we get a ROCK album?! It’s so insanely impossible, it’s logical…or something like that.

Anyhow, if Aerosmith didn’t hit one outta the park in at least right field with Music from Another Dimension, I’m not real sure anyone could. The tunes are rock, the tones are woody and there’s space in the music. Thank goodness, someone still makes, engineers and produces music that actually breathes.

Really want to know what gear was used on this one, so more info coming there. For now, here’s a tune that should convince you to pony over the $0.99 at a time if’n you haven’t already.

Ooh, ah, ooh.

KISS: Wow! Wood!

We all know KISS is one o’ those love ’em or hate ’em bands. No middle ground. To their credit. Dig it or don’t buy a tigget.

I’m in the dig ’em camp, stemming from the early days. I liked their last album, a conscious attempt to sound classic, and somehow was unaware that a new album (Monster) was coming this year. Had the high hopes/trepidation thing, and after the first tune I heard – a Simmons creation – I was bummed.

Like an idiot I wrote off the whole thang til a bud – who isn’t much of a KISS fan but like me is always desperate for some classic rock-sounding stuff – emailed that he was really surprised at how good the new KISS album was. So I listened to it.

First thing that slammed me – other than the fact that Paul keeps that band going – was the straight-up woody Marshall-mids tones. Very cool. I know Tommy likes Hughes & Kettner amps, so we’ll see what he used – will chase down more on their gear too.

For now, here you go – mp3 sounds woodier:

More gainy live, but love that good bands can still do it live:


Call me nuts, but in terms of Marshallesque wood, the new KISS has the most. Aerosmith is more vintage-sounding and excellent. ZZ Top – hafta say I’m the most disappointed with their tones. Would love to have heard that album with the Rev using tones from the Aero or KISS albums. Seriously.

Tell me to stop licking toads later.

(Dis?)Honorable Mention

> Also a huge Joe Walsh fan, but his recent-ish solo album I just…could…not…dig. Wanted to big-time, but wow, what happened to the fire, volume and the rest of it all that Joe used to make his slave?

Category: Aerosmith, Billy Gibbons, KISS, mp3/CD/DVD

Comments (6)

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  1. Butch Taylor says:

    If you really want woody guitar tones , it is a couple years old now but Greg Martin (kentucky Headhunters) has a side project called Rufus Huff. Check out their you tube vids….. More wood than all of these combined….and Greg is a Desciple of Billy F Gibbons!
    If this deal is about WOOD, there is none finer!

  2. Angelo Catani says:

    Butch WOW!! What a great band Rufus Huff is!!! Thanks so much for posting that reply. Dare I say it, the music gave me WOOD! Ha!!! Seriously tho what great music and Greg Martin is a killer killer player with awesome tone. Thanks again!

  3. Butch Taylor says:

    Yep…he uses a 58 Les Paul into an old 100w Marshall amp….nothing but cord in between! Gibson has recently made a Greg Martin Les Paul as well….now if we can get these folks here in the Wood Admin dept. to explore into the world of Greg Martin….you will get WOOD!

  4. Stef Butcher says:

    Just watch ( and lisen )… I think there is another guy backstage playing the bass line ???
    Shame on you Mr.$immons !

  5. Tyler says:

    Couldn’t agree more with the comments on the ZZ Top album. I’ll just add my opinion on why there is no woodiness and air movement is because it has been squeezed right out in the production. The cd mix is way too loud, has no dynamics. Whatever soul these tunes had was choked to death in the hands of Rick Rubin. Fuzz ..and tone..need room to breath. This is a great album with great songs, but I cant get through one listen before its pulled from the player. No way his rig sounded like this in the studio.

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