Z.Z. Hill – 1974 – Z.Z.

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Rip and research by Mr.Moo

Hill’s second album for United Artists was recorded at the fabled Fame studio in Muscle Shoals, Alabama. Rick Hall’s Fame studio could pride itself as having been the operating base for some of soul music’s finest performers: Wilson Pickett, Aretha Franklin, the Staple Singers, Clarence Carter and Percy Sledge, to name a few. Come 1974, however, soul music – and especially raw, Southern Soul – had ceased to be the most commercially viable black music style: hard-hitting funk bands such as Earth, Wind & Fire and Kool & the Gang were rapidly rising in popularity, whereas the first signs of the hideous disco epidemic were becoming visible as well.

Tracks
A1 It Ain’t Safe 3:00
A2 Let Them Talk 2:55
A3 Am I Groovin’ You 4:35
A4 Snap Your Fingers 3:05
A5 Bad Mouth And Gossip 3:10
B1 Clean Up America 3:00
B2 Country Love 2:35
B3 The Best I Ever Had 3:05
B4 Two Wrongs Don’t Make A Right 2:45
B5 You’re Killing Me (Slowly But Surely) 2:50
B6 Funny Face 2:38

Review by Soulmakossa

All this must be taken into account when listening to ‘Z.Z.’. Like its predecessor, it is a superior, raw and funky collection of Southern Soul at its finest, and the fact that it was less than successful in the charts only shows yet again that quality and commercial success rarely go hand in hand.
The album kicks off with a ferocious funk jam, the stupendously grooving “It Ain’t Safe“, which opens with the sound of a knock on the door, followed by Z.Z. hilariously shouting ‘who is it??’ For a brief while, a conversation between Z.Z. and the lady at the door can be heard, sounding very similar to the bickering banter that is audible throughout ‘The Brand New Z.Z. Hill’. Here, though, it is kept thankfully short.
The gutbucket funkiness of “It Ain’t Safe” temporarily makes way for a delicate, sweet rendition of Little Willie John’s “Let Them Talk“, but Z.Z. Hill is back in full funk mode with the greasy, laid back groove of “Am I Groovin’ You?” Thundering drums, popping bass, blaring horns and a repeating, hypnotizing guitar lick made this one of Hill’s sweatiest work outs up to that point, although the dark, simmering groove of the socio-political “Clean Up America” – which sounds almost like the theme for a blaxploitation flick – is a strong contender as well.

Hill then delved right back into the Blues, with the original “Bad Mouth And Gossip“, a raunchy, mid-tempo blues wailer of the sort that would make him a star in the 1980s.
The singer proved as much at ease with soulfully interpreting country material. His version of Don Gibson‘s “Snap Your Fingers” is heartfelt and warm, but it’s the tunes co-written by recording engineer Al Cartee that really give a good example of the country-soul hybrid that had already proven to work well for other soulsters such as Johnny Adams, Joe Simon and Joe Tex. Whereas “Country Love” may sound a bit too derivative on the chorus, the plaintive, rollicking “The Best I Ever Had” is sheer magic, with Hill’s at times almost velvety vocal. Equally impressive is the lamenting “Two Wrongs Don’t Make a Right“, which is richly enhanced by a churchy organ in the background and infectious horns.
You’re Killing Me (Slowly But Surely)” probably is most enduring of all. First recorded by his erstwhile label mate Freddie North in 1971, Hill gives his own spin on this mournful, tear jerking opus. The inclusion of Donna Fargo‘s huge hit “Funny Face” is well executed, but hardly essential.

In all, Z.Z. is another highly rewarding soul album that deserved a better fate. It has been released on CD in its entirety on the 2CD compilation ‘The Complete Hill/United Artists Recordings’ [Capitol, 1996.]

Free Download AlbumZ.Z. Hill – 1974 – Z.Z.

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Conversation for album: Z.Z. Hill – 1974 – Z.Z.

32 Comments
  • Bill
    Posted at 15:03h, 03 July 2011 Reply

    Underrated but great Southern Soul singer. Thanks for sharing this.

  • hipcat
    Posted at 17:46h, 03 July 2011 Reply

    nice rewiw & music.

  • whoknows
    Posted at 20:08h, 03 July 2011 Reply

    thanks for this ZZ…been a fan ever since I heard madlib flip “that aint the way ya make love” for that Madvillain track…great voice, thanks again for all the work yall put in to bring us the good stuff!

  • Holly
    Posted at 02:58h, 04 July 2011 Reply

    Thank you for this lovely lp!

  • Gary
    Posted at 10:11h, 04 July 2011 Reply

    Absolutely great. Thanks.

  • Louis
    Posted at 21:00h, 04 July 2011 Reply

    Excellent choice.

  • Raphy
    Posted at 04:44h, 05 July 2011 Reply

    Thanks Mr. Moo for posting this gem

    big [email protected]!

  • Paul
    Posted at 08:45h, 05 July 2011 Reply

    Thank you so much, not heard this for ages and love it to bits.

  • rich
    Posted at 20:59h, 05 July 2011 Reply

    great post mr. moo

  • Burt
    Posted at 08:45h, 06 July 2011 Reply

    Thanks fam, good lookin out.

  • Marvin
    Posted at 19:33h, 06 July 2011 Reply

    Z.Z. Hill know how to tell it like it is. The man voice was awesome and music like this is no longer made. Sadly, but true.

  • Ryan
    Posted at 21:02h, 06 July 2011 Reply

    Such a great voice and such a great sound. Thanks for posting this.

  • EL
    Posted at 22:53h, 06 July 2011 Reply

    Good post as always. Much appreciated.

  • ross
    Posted at 00:02h, 07 July 2011 Reply

    thanks nice find always looking out for what i have missed great album just checking amazon for cd.

    thank you

  • Alexandros
    Posted at 08:29h, 07 July 2011 Reply

    Thanks Mr.Moo,never heard this,thanks for the chance.

  • Mary
    Posted at 22:06h, 07 July 2011 Reply

    just pure class, at his best.

  • Andy
    Posted at 09:06h, 08 July 2011 Reply

    This music is extraordinarily good. Thanks for sharing it.

  • Benfunky
    Posted at 11:26h, 08 July 2011 Reply

    Thanks for a great album. Can’t ever hear too much of Z.Z. Hill from any time period.

  • Fred
    Posted at 14:18h, 08 July 2011 Reply

    Such an incredible artist. This one is one of my favs.

  • Barry
    Posted at 19:37h, 08 July 2011 Reply

    The best blog i’ve ever seen. Congratulations. Fantastic work.

  • Jerry
    Posted at 20:44h, 08 July 2011 Reply

    Thanks so much.

  • Jimmy
    Posted at 10:05h, 09 July 2011 Reply

    Great record all the way 🙂 Thanks a lot:)

  • Ray
    Posted at 14:10h, 09 July 2011 Reply

    This is a truly great recording. Thank you.

  • Bluesboy
    Posted at 11:01h, 10 July 2011 Reply

    Very nice post, thank you very much! 🙂

  • Nikki
    Posted at 14:49h, 11 July 2011 Reply

    Love it. It’s superb. Thanks guys.

  • Mick
    Posted at 08:44h, 12 July 2011 Reply

    WOW. This is deep!

  • Joan
    Posted at 11:39h, 12 July 2011 Reply

    Absolutely fantastic.

  • Jules
    Posted at 08:59h, 14 July 2011 Reply

    Great work digging this up.

  • pedro
    Posted at 18:48h, 31 July 2011 Reply

    Thanks Mr Moo for this one it,s as smooth as silk with the fame back it couldn,t go wrong Pedro

  • Renly
    Posted at 10:17h, 06 August 2011 Reply

    A strong performance with a sensitive feeling.

  • Rich
    Posted at 03:08h, 17 August 2011 Reply

    Thanks again for yet another fantastic lp that I’d never even heard of! It’s like Barry said above – the best blog I’ve ever seen, you guys are incredible!*-)

  • Vynilbeats
    Posted at 04:49h, 23 March 2018 Reply

    What an amazing upload
    thanks a lot

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