Concord RecordsThis past week, ZZ Top frontman Billy Gibbons released his first-ever solo album, Perfectamundo, a collection of original songs and select covers that finds the singer/guitarist adding some Afro-Cuban flavor to his famous band’s trademark blues-rock boogie. Gibbons says the motivation behind the new record began when he was invited to play at the 2014 Havana Jazz Festival.

Although he ended up not taking part in the festival, the invitation inspired to him to start putting together some songs that he felt would be embraced by a Cuban audience.

“I didn’t want to crash the party with a big rock show. That led us into kind of tiptoeing into uncharted waters,” Gibbons tells ABC Radio. “It just happened to be 90 miles across the straits of Florida, and we wound up with this Afro-Cubano-twinged group of recordings.”

The 65-year-old Rock and Roll Hall of Famer says the project wasn’t originally intended to be a full-length album, but came together organically as he recorded tracks with a collective of musical friends whom he christened The BFG’s. His collaborators included keyboard players Mike Flanigan and Martine “G.G.” GuiGui, singer/bassist Alex “Guitarzza” Garza and drummer Greg Morrow, along with multi-instrumentalist and longtime ZZ Top engineer Joe Hardy, who co-produced the record with Gibbons.

“It was a very relaxing excursion into our private club — surfing the Internet while smoking cigarettes and drinking wine,” Billy says of the sessions. “And now we’ve got this thing as a bona fide record.”

While working on the album, Gibbons said he checked with his friend Chino Pons — the leader of a popular Cuban-music outfit in New York City — to see if the songs were sounding authentic enough. Pons gave a big thumbs-up to what he heard, telling Gibbons that the songs sounded “very authentic, very traditional.” That being said, Billy revealed that Chino also requested, “Can you mix it up with a little ZZ Top and Led Zeppelin?”

Keeping Pons’ suggestion in mind, Gibbons says that “the range of expressions through this record got really wide.”

In addition to blues-rock influences and Afro-Cuban rhythms, Perfectamundo even features some hip-hop interludes that Gibbons says were led by the “resident poet” of The BFG’s, Garza.

The first single from Perfectamundo is a cover of Texas rock-and-soul singer Roy Head‘s classic 1965 hit “Treat Her Right.” Gibbons tells ABC Radio that Head heard his rendition of the tune and gave it some glowing praise.

“[Roy] said, ‘It’s been covered about 50 times, and I must say, with your version I’d put you in the ring with Ali,'” Gibbons recalls. “What more can you ask for?”

As previously reported, Gibbons will head out on a U.S. tour with The BFG’s that kicks off November 27 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. In addition, Billy will finally get the chance to perform at the Havana Music Festival next month, with performances scheduled on December 17, 18 and 20. You can check out his full solo itinerary at BillyGibbons.com.

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