When it was released in 1972, ZZ Top's second album, Rio Grande Mud, found the Texas trio crystallizing their signature blues-rock sound into the tightly wound formula that propelled them to greater success throughout the decade (and beyond) starting with 1973's Tres Hombres.
Despite favorites like "Just Got Paid" and the slow-burning "Sure Got Cold After the Rain Fell," Rio Grande Mud was only a modest seller for the group, topping out somewhere around the middle of the U.S. album charts. And there was only one single released from the album - but it was a barn-burner. "Francene," the album's opening track, featured the driving howl and crunch of frontman Billy Gibbons's guitar in full bloom. With that signature sound secured long before the group became stadium sellouts or MTV darlings, "Francene" ended up being the first ZZ Top single to make an impact on the pop charts in America, peaking at a modest No. 69.
But anyone lucky enough to have picked up that single of "Francene" sat on some real ZZ Top treasure for many years: the B-side was an alternate mix of the song sung by Gibbons (with backing vocals by the late, great Dusty Hill) in Spanish. Most interestingly, while the more familiar album version features Gibbons' vocal with a slight twangy affectation that would define many of his early recordings, getting those Spanish vocals right (down to the flipped "r"s in "lo que quiero") causes Gibbons to sing in a tone very similar to the group's most recognizable radio hits.
The Spanish "Francene" was unavailable anywhere else for many years until it was dug up as a bonus track for the band's 2004 box set Chrome Smoke & BBQ.