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Classic Albums: ZZ Top - Eliminator

ZZ Top's masterwork coincided with the advent of the MTV explosion of the early 80s, and that happy accident only helped establish the band's legend in the eyes of a new generation. For the first time those beards and that boogie bar room blues were plastered across every TV set in North America. The band were already well loved and well respected musicians, but now they were icons.

But while the timing was particularly fortunate, what can't be denied is the quality of the record.

The Texan trio had forged a career in gritty, downtrodden, fuzzed up blues which had somehow transcended genres. They were as loved by blues aficionados as they were by hard rockers, but on Eliminator they hit gold* with their most commercial, most wilfully contemporary but also most satisfying album to date. Forget "those videos", it was the songs that really mattered this time around.

There are eleven songs on Eliminator, and from those the band chose five singles, but in reality any of the tracks could have been released and they would all have been hits. The band combined their trademark blues growl with a polished pop sheen, no doubt aided by a noticeable increase in synthesisers. That the songs are as instantly hummable as they are "air-guitarable" is testament to the strength of the songwriting on show.

Also, like all great albums there's something so transportative about Eliminator. No doubt aided by the modern western themes put forward in the videos, this record is almost certainly the soundtrack of choice for people visiting the great southern states of America.

There's no weak point on Eliminator. While it's undoubtedly commercial it doesn't feel forced or fake; it contains some of the greatest, most recognisable rock hits of the past 40 years but it doesn't feel overplayed; it's fun, without being clichéd.

So, go now. Dig out the record, put it on, turn it up loud and start thinking about growing that beard once again.

* Actually, it struck diamond - Eliminator has sold more than 10m copies in the US, which means it joins a pretty exclusive group of records to be given the Diamond classification.

1) Gimme All Your Lovin' All songs by Gibbons, Hill and Beard 3:59
2) Got Me Under Pressure
3) Sharp Dressed Man
4) I Need You Tonight
5) I Got The Six
6) Legs
7) Thug
8) TV Dinners
9) Dirty Dog
10) If I Could Only Flag Her Home
11) Bad Girl


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