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Blues singer ZZ Hill first made records for Atlantic, Kent, and in 1971 scored his first big hit for United Artists, followed by others on Columbia. In the 80's he single-handedly started a blues revival in the USA with the smash-it "Down Home Blues".

"The Brand New ZZ Hill" was originally marketed as a Blues Opera, an oddity back in the early seventies, and was written by Swamp Dogg and Gary U.S. Bonds. When released it hit both the Billboard Top 200 and the R&B charts and sold over a million singles via six releases. The album has been REMASTERED for this release and is presented here with its ORIGINAL ALBUM GATEFOLD COVER. The CD DIGIPAK comes with 8 bonus tracks and NEW LINER NOTES by producer Swamp Dogg.


Every time I speak of Z.Z. HILL or listen to his recordings I can’t think of anyone I’ve ever met in the music industry that was more gentlemanly, kind, gracious, generous, and talented as he was.

I bought Z.Z’s contract from Quin Ivy (Percy Sledge’s producer), who sold it to me because Z.Z. refused to go back into the studio with him. Z.Z. despised Quin, who by the way was a damn good friend of mine. Why did he despise Quin? Because Quin had been tricked into buying Z.Z.’s contract from Phil Walden (Otis Redding’s partner), who Z.Z thought was a real piece of shit, and sometimes he was. When Phil felt like being human he’d let Frank “I Drink a Fifth of Booze a Day” Fenter be the bad guy.

Now! Here I come. Some nigga out of nowhere named Swamp Dogg who now owns Z.Z. HILL’s contract and wants to take him in to, of all places, Quinvy Studio to record. Z.Z. played cat and mouse with me for about six months. I couldn’t catch up with him, only his brother, Matt, who I think passed on my messages.

Matt and Z.Z. were frightened because they knew that they had recorded the smash “Don’t Make Me Pay for His Mistakes,” while still under contract to Quin and now, via the contract purchase, the master legally belonged to me. Finally I caught up with Z.Z. … at the famous Robert’s “colored” Hotel and Lounge. He came up to my room and I made a deal that consisted of me relinquishing any claims on “Don’t Make Me Pay...”, and giving him a five thousand dollar fee, along with a minuscule royalty, to go into the studio with me. He promised to have his part of the album completed in three days, he just wanted out. So he signed a contract with me agreeing to those stipulations. A few weeks later we met in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, and with the infallible engineering and ear of David (Bat) Johnson, we completed a Blues Opera that Gary Bonds and I had written, in addition to some singles produced by Quin, David and me.

Z.Z.’s part of the session was about to take more than three days though. I needed to add extensive dialogue and some expressive emotion to make the record believable. So … in walks Bob Carl Bailey, a DJ who wound up as the first black radio station owner in the Muscle Shoals, Florence, Tuscumbia, Alabama area, WZZA. Bob did all of the voice-overs with the exception of the ones David and I did on “Faithful and True.”

The girl that ended up on the tracks just happened to be walking by the studio and we were sitting out on the stoop when she approached us and asked “Y’all make records in there?” I said “Yeah, how would you like to make a record?” She said “I can’t sing but I’ll try.” Bob Carl Bailey assured her that she would not have to sing, just talk with feeling. She did a wonderful job, we paid her, she left and we never heard or seen of her since. Her name was either Leawii Little or Cleazell Brown.

The album hit both the Billboard Top 200 and the R&B charts and we sold over a million singles via six releases.

Z.Z. and I became good friends, renegotiating the royalties and putting my song “Baby I’d Chop Off My Right Arm For Your Love” on the flip side of his multimillion selling single “Cheating In The Next Room.” Now there’s a man I miss. – Swamp Dogg

Hill knows when to sing sweetly and when to just let the words drop like gentle rain. He makes the benign sentiments of “Faithful and True” into a celebratory incantation. All of the 10 tracks on the original album are timeless examples of soul music at its finest.

The re-release also contains eight bonus cuts, including other versions of “Faithful and True”, “I Think I‘d Do It”, and a funky rendition of Jackie DeShannon’s “Put a Little Love in Your Heart”. – Steve Horowitz / POPMATTERS

1971 slab of cheatin' soul, written and produced by Swamp Dogg, with help from Gary Bonds. The songs are ace; the Texan bluesman is part Bobby Bland, part Freddie King vocals too. – Lois Wilson / MOJO