ZZ Top

Some serious dudes, although the drummer forgot his drums.
ZZ Top is a rock band from Houston Texas. Founded in 1969 the band’s three man lineup has remained unchanged ever since. It’s rare to find a band with such a long history and a unchanged lineup, a true testament to the dedication to the cause or maybe they just don’t talk a lot. The three members go like this, Billy Gibbons(guitar), Dusty Hill(bass) and Frank Beard(drums). All through the seventies ZZ was a stripped down blues-rock band in the vein of blues legend BB King. However they changed their formula in the eighties with the introduction of synthesizers. This helped fit a more pop mold and made their music accessible to a wider audience, a much wider audience. As a result ZZ’s best selling albums are all from the eighties. In more recent times they’ve gone back to their roots by dropping the synths and playing the stripped down blues-rock that got them started.

I recall being a lad in the eighties and watching ZZ Top’s videos on MTV. They were one of the first generation of bands to embrace what MTV was trying to do by creating an image for themselves through music video. I have since read that ZZ’s videos were trilogies each portraying some semblance of a story although I never thought much about when I was watching them. To a adolescent boy like myself I had other things to focus on besides a “story”, sexy ladies, hot rods, bad ass rocker lookin dudes with beards, who gave a crap about the story? One of the prominent features of the early videos was a 1933 red Ford called “The Eliminator”. At the time watching tv was a family affair and my parents always commented on the car. Being that it even had my parent’s praise I thought it was the coolest thing. In all of the videos featuring the Eliminator at some point in the video it’s keys would be passed on to someone, usually a down trodden fellow trying to impress an upper class lady with a short skirt and fishnet stockings. At any rate, the keys weren’t important but the key chain they were attached to was an awesome ZZ Top logo. They eventually marketed key chains that looked just like the ones from the videos. I even knew someone that had one, those were really cool.

I’ll admit I don’t own most of ZZ Top’s albums. However I have heard them in various forms. Back in the eighties my mother had a few of their albums on vinyl so I know those eighties ones pretty well but I’ve since heard the seventies ones. The only album I have of theirs on CD is their Anthology, “Rancho Texicano”. When I first listened to early ZZ I didn’t expect much, I had assumed that their best material was from the eighties and boy was I wrong. The seventies stuff blows the doors off their later material. The song “La Grange” from their 1973 album “Tres Hombres” is easily one of the best songs of their genre. That song makes me wanna get down, makes me air guitar on a broom or something. Today if I were to pick up a ZZ album I’d go for the first three and then maybe Eliminator, just because of all the hubbub around it. They have a huge catalog though so you can really go to down exploring it if you like.

1) ZZ Top’s First Album [1971]
2) Rio Grande Mud [1972]
3) Tres Hombres [1973]
4) Fandango! [1975]
5) Tejas [1977]
6) Deg├╝ello [1979]
7) El Loco [1981]
8) Eliminator [1983]
9) Afterburner [1985]
10) Recycler [1990]
11) Antenna [1994]
12) One Foot in the Blues [1994]
13) Rhythmeen [1996]
14) XXX [1999]
15) Mescalero [2003]
16) Chrome, Smoke & BBQ [2003]

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