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Great Unknown Songs #22 – ZZ Top “Tube Snake Boogie”

Great Unknown Songs #22 – ZZ Top “Tube Snake Boogie”


Great Unknown Songs #22 – ZZ Top “Tube Snake Boogie”

ZZ Top’s “Tube Snake Boogie” is from their 1981 album El Loco. The song was released as a single the same year and reached #4 on the Billboard Mainstream Rock.

El Loco is their seventh studio album, the title means “The Crazy One” in Spanish. The band’s guitarist/singer Billy Gibbons has said that the recording of this album was the first time the three members of the band were isolated from one another in the studio, rather than recording simultaneously in the same room.

It also foreshadowed ZZ Top’s synthesizer-driven direction later in the decade, with early experimentations in synthesizer backing on certain tracks.

Listen below:

“Tube Snake Boogie” by ZZ Top

El Loco (1981)

Song meaning

What is a Tube Snake? Billy Gibbons answered that question in a 1985 interview with Spin magazine: “Originally, it was a surfboard. A friend of mine, for obvious reasons, liked the sound of the name. I guess it’s the first cousin to a tube steak.”

ZZ TOP and Eliminator

In the liner notes for the band’s 1992 Greatest Hits album, it is explained that “‘tube snake’ is gnarly lingo for a surfboard. Either way, it’s good clean fun.” The song was produced by Bill Ham, and recorded and mixed by Terry Manning.


Serbian hard rock band Cactus Jack recorded a version on their live cover album DisCover in 2002. Canadian blues guitarist Bill Durst recorded a version on his 2005 album, The Wharncliff Sessions.

Hear more Great Unknown Songs

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