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4.8 out of 5 stars
4.8 out of 5 stars
Format: Audio CD|Change
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on 17 June 2017
Best £24 I've ever spent great boxset 10 albums wonderful
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This is the best value box set of any band ever. Here we get to hear the original mixes of the first 10 albums by ZZ Top as they were originally put out by the band and mercifully free of the digital triggered drums sound that utterly ruined the first cd versions of these albums.

The other great thing about this box set is how it is possible to hear a trio of superb musicians take a strong act with a solid grounding in the blues and rock and mutate it into something altogether greater than anyone could have predicted at the time of recording.

The only downside is the dip in song writing quality by the time Afterburner rolls around. It still has some superb songs on it, but also has some stuff which is just plain annoying.

Overall an essential purchase for anyone who loves ZZ Top, or rock in general.
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A bit of ZZ History is needed on this one... Back in the mists of early CD reissues and especially 'remasters' - 1987's "Six Pack' by ZZ TOP was considered to be the height of desirability. It contained Discs 1 to 5 and 7 listed below - so it naturally 'looked like' a great remaster deal. That is until you listened to it. In order to cash in on the huge success of 1983's "Eliminator" and its 1985 follow up "Afterburner" - 1980's type percussion was 'remixed' into the first five LPs in the set (excluding "El Loco") and the results were awful. By way of finally placating fans - 2006 saw proper CD remasters of "Tres Hombres" and "Fandango!" that even contained bonus tracks (not included in these reissues unfortunately). "Eliminator" also saw a Deluxe Edition 2CD proper remaster in September 2008 - but the other albums have only seen sporadic tracks crop up in remastered form on Anthologies and the 2003 "Chrome, Smoke & BBQ" 4CD Retro.

Which brings us to this fab little box set - "The Complete Studio Albums 1970-1990" on Warner Brothers 8122796519 released June 2013. It features 10 albums, 100 tracks and all using the original mixes - and for the first time in the case of "ZZ Top's First Album", "Rio Grande Mud" and "Tejas" - proper remasters. And they're in lovely 5" card repro sleeves with "Tres Hombres" and "Tejas" sporting their original gatefolds (a tri for "Tejas"). Here is a disc-by-disc breakdown of the wide-brimmed hats and ladies with lengthy limbs...

Disc 1 (35:37 minutes):
1. (Somebody Else Been) Shaking Your Tree
2. Brown Sugar
3. Squank
4. Goin' Down To Mexico
5. Old Man
6. Neighbor, Neighbor
7. Certified Blues
8. Bedroom Thang
9. Just Got Back From Baby's
10. Backdoor Love Affair
Tracks 1 to 10 are their debut LP "ZZ Top's First Album" - released January 1971 in the USA on London PS 584 (no UK release at the time)

Disc 2 (39:01 minutes):
1. Francine
2. Just Got Paid
3. Mushmouth Shoutin'
4. Ko Ko Blue
5. Chevrolet
6. Apologies To Pearly
7. Bar-B-Q
8. Sure Got Cold After The Rain Fell
9. Whiskey'n Mama
10. Down Brownie
Tracks 1 to 10 are the LP "Rio Grande Mud" - released April 1972 LP on London PS 612 in the USA and July 1972 LP on London SH-U 8433 in the UK

Disc 3 (33:30 minutes):
1. Waitin' For The Bus
2. Jesus Just Left Chicago
3. Beer Drinkers & Hell Raisers
4. Master Of Sparks
5. Hot, Blue & Righteous
6. Move Me On Down The Line
7. Precious And Grace
8. La Grange
9. Shiek
10. Have You Heard?
Tracks 1 to 10 are the LP "Tres Hombres" - released August 1973 LP in the USA on London PS 631 and November 1973 LP in the UK on London SH-U 8459

Disc 4 (33:51 minutes):
1. Thunderbird [Live]
2. Jailhouse Rock [Live]
3. Backdoor Medley: Backdoor Love Affair/Mellow Down Easy/Backdoor Love Affair No.2/Long Distance Boogie [Live]
4. Nasty Dogs And Funky Kings [Live]
5. Blue Jean Blues [Side 2]
6. Balinese
7. Mexican Blackbird
8. Heard It On The X
9. Tush
Tracks 1 to 9 are the LP "Fandango!" - released May 1975 in the USA on London PS 656 and June 1975 in the UK on London SH-U 8482 (Side 1 is Live, Side 2 is Studio Tracks)

Disc 5 (34:52 minutes):
1. It's Only Love
2. Arrested For Driving While Blind
3. El Diablo
4. Snappy Kakkie
5. Enjoy And Get It On
6. Ten Dollar Man
7. Pan Am Highway Blues
8. Avalon Hideaway
9. She's A Heartbreaker
10. Asleep In the Desert
Tracks 1 to 10 are the LP "Tejas" - released January 1977 in the USA on London PS 680 and February 1977 in the UK on London LDU 1

Disc 6 (34:18 minutes):
1. I Thank You
2. She Loves My Automobile
3. I'm Bad, I'm Nationwide
4. A Fool For Your Stockings
5. Manic Mechanic
6. Dust My Broom
7. Lowdown On The Street
8. Hi Fi Mama
9. Cheap Sunglasses
10. Esther Be The One
Tracks 1 to 10 are the LP "Deguello" - released November 1979 in the USA on Warner Brothers HS 3361 and December 1977 in the UK on Warner Brothers K 56701

Disc 7 (37:23 minutes):
1. Tube Snake Boogie
2. I Wanna Drive You Home
3. Ten Foot Pole
4. Leila
5. Don't Tease Me
6. It's So Hard
7. Pearl Necklace
8. Groovy Little Hippie Pad
9. Heaven, Hell Or Houston
10. Party On The Patio
Tracks 1 to 10 are the LP "El Loco" - released July 1981 in the USA on Warner Brothers BSK 3593 and Warner Brothers K 56929 in the UK

Disc 8 (45:28 minutes):
1. Gimme All Your Lovin'
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 Down
11. Bad Girl
Tracks 1 to 11 are the LP "Eliminator" - released April 1983 in the USA on Warner Brothers 23774-1 and Warner Brothers W 3774 in the UK

Disc 9 (37:34 minutes):
1. Sleeping Bag
2. Stages
3. Woke Up With Wood
4. Rough Boy
5. Can't Stop Rockin'
6. Planet Of Women
7. I Got The Message
8. Velcro Fly
9. Dipping Low (In The Lap Of Luxury)
10. Delirious
Tracks 1 to 10 are the LP "Afterburner" - released November 1985 in the USA on Warner Brothers 25342-1 and Warner Brothers WX 27 in the UK

Disc 10 (39:55 minutes):
1. Concrete And Steel
2. Lovething
3. Penthouse Eyes
4. Tell It
5. My Head's In Mississippi
6. Decision Or Collision
7. Give It Up
8. 2000 Blues
9. Burger Man
10. Doubleback
Tracks 1 to 10 are the LP "Recycler" - released October 1990 in the USA on Warner Brothers 26265-1 and Warner Brothers WX 390 in the UK

Bitty bad news first - as it appears to be with all these Warners mini boxes (see reviews for Ry Cooder, Little Feat and Joni Mitchell) - there's no booklet - when such a thing would have been just oh so sweet. That aside what you do get is blindingly great Blues Boogie and ZZ's brand of Swamp Rock that doesn't let up for the duration (even if the later Eighties LP are patchy in places). And the sound is fantastic - clear, warm and full of ballsy clarity - and best of all - untampered.

Musically how good is it to finally hear the "First Album" and especially "Rio Grande Mud" sound this kicking - a few seconds into slinky "Bedroom Thang", the harmonica boogie of "Mushmouth Shoutin'" and the rip of "Ko Ko Blue" and I'm in Rocking Nirvana. The aching seven and half minute Blues "Sure Got Cold After The Rain Fell" is surely one of their great forgotten classics.

All the hits are here "La Grange", "Tush", "Jesus Just Left Chicago" and "Arrested For Driving While Blind" from the Seventies to the Eighties monsters "Gimme All Your Lovin'", "Legs", "TV Dinners", ""Sleeping Bag", "Rough Boy", "2000 Blues" and the stunning boogie slayer - "My Head's In Mississippi". But half the fun is rediscovering those album gems you'd forgotten about - Fandango's "Blue Jean Blues", Tejas's "El Diablo" and Deguello's "A Fool For Your Stockings" and their slide cover of the Elmore James classic "Dust My Broom" - now with the audio clarity they've always deserved. What a blast...and at just over two quid a disc - this is pretty much a no-brainer.

Buy it, start boogieing across the ceiling and grow that beard long baby...YAR!
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just like a big box of texan beer
it goes chug chug chug
if your zz top vinyl is worn look here for salvation
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on 10 April 2017
It's ZZ Top, what more is there to say :-) well packaged, great collection.
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on 13 June 2013
At last the first two and the 5th albums have been restored to the 'original album mix' and packaged together with the 2006 restored 3rd & 4th albums and the original mixes of albums 6-10 - so all albums sounding just as they should - doesn't sound to me like they have become victims of the 'loudness wars' (that's what the volume control on your amps for)!
Their first ten studio albums in mini-LP sleeves in a clam-shell box.
ZZ Top's First Album (1971) (now restored to the original album mix), debut studio album incorporating boogie, hard rock and Southern rock influences
Rio Grande Mud (1972) (now restored to the original album mix), inspired by the Rio Grande, the river that forms the border between Mexico and Texas and means "big river" in Spanish.
Tres Hombres (1973) (2006 restored version of the original album mix, without 'bonus tracks'),the band's first commercial breakthrough. The album hit the top ten while the single "La Grange" hit number 41 on the US singles chart.
Fandango! (1975) (2006 restored version of the original album mix, without 'bonus tracks'), half are selections from live shows, the other half are new songs from the studio.
Tejas (1976) (now restored to the original album mix), the title is the modern Spanish word for Texas, the band's home state.
Degüello (1979) (original album mix)
El Loco (1981) (original album mix), means "The Crazy One" in Spanish.
Eliminator (1983) (original album mix), the breakthrough internationally and the most successful release with sales of over 10 million copies in the United States alone.
Afterburner (1985) (original album mix), was a financial success, going several times platinum and launching several hit singles. In the UK, it was the band's second album to be certified by the British Phonographic Industry, attaining Gold (100,000 units) in 1985. In 1990, it was certified Platinum (300,000 units).
Recycler (1990) (original album mix), the band had a cameo in the 1990 movie 'Back to the Future Part III' playing an "old west" version of "Doubleback"

So go ahead and buy this simply put together cheap box set knowing that all sounds as it originally was meant to sound (no 80's drums & electronic reverb on the early albums).

Maybe they could package the next 5 albums, Antenna (1994), Rhythmeen (1996), XXX (1999), Mescalero (2003) & La Futura (2012) up similarly for Xmas, just a thought.
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on 24 May 2017
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on 10 June 2013
For anyone who appreciates great blues-rock, no holds boogie and musicians with a sense of humour, as well as talent, this brilliant box set is just perfect - ZZ Top's first 10 albums, spanning 20 years, in superb replica cardboard sleeves (including a gatefold for Tres Hombres and double gatefold for Tejas) in a clam-shell box: all at a remarkably low price, and sure to appeal to hard-core fans and others alike. There are no bonus tracks included, although arguably this helps to preserve the original listening experience. And although there's no information about remastering, the discs are described as "original mixes" (including ZZ Tops' First Album, Rio Grande Mud and Tejas for the first time). I'm sure that aficionados will be able to analyse the sound quality compared to earlier versions on vinyl and CD.

There can't be much to say about the music that hasn't already been said - from the start it was obvious that the 'Little ol' band from Texas' had something special. Guitarist Billy Gibbons (one of blues-rock's finest exponents) developed a truly unique sense of tone and rhythm which along with Dusty Hill's bass and Frank Beard's drums evolved into a true signature sound. And Hill and Gibbons' vocals suit the songs perfectly. But this collection reveals that the band isn't just a basic guitar, bass & drums line-up, as all three turn their hands to various other instruments, including blues harp, fiddle, keyboards and even a range of saxophones to form their own horn section!

Arguably, the band really hit it's groove with Tres Hombres and although some fans baulked at Eliminator with its use of synths and pop-rock emphasis, the massive commercial success which came with the car introduced the band to a wider audience, some of whom will, no doubt, have then explored the delights of ZZ's back catalogue. I reckon each of these albums has something significant to offer and this collection demonstrates how the Texas trio could take a basic blues-rock format to places you wouldn't think possible (I'm not talking Wolverhampton here). Anyone totally new to the band can get a Tex-Mex flavour from one of the compilations (Rancho Texicano being a great introduction and, in effect, a sampler of these 10 albums) but this box set is an absolute belter. 5*. 'scuse me - I'm off to get a Stetson!
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on 10 June 2013
Cant really complain for the amount of music for the money, and this set is great for those with maybe only a best of in their collection.

But. Comparing these disks to the expanded versions from 2006 and I hear a noticeable drop in sound quality from those. Tres Hombres is a lot quieter and thinner sounding in this box set especially. The sound of the first three or four CDs I suspect are from the original vinyl mix.

The whole set sounds inconsistent in the quality of sound which makes me believe they are from several different sources. The difference comparing these disks and the 2006 versions to the same tracks from the Chrome, Smoke & B.B.Q set is very noticeable The latter being by far the best. I don't understand why those masters would have not been used for the new box set.

Like I said though, just over £20 for 10 of the best CDs of music you will ever hear is still a major bargain.
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on 3 August 2015
No need to review the music. You don't buy a ZZ Top box set on a whim, So you are no doubt familiar with that end of things, So what of the box set itself? The albums sound good, no real problem there. But the cardboard album cases are by far the flimsiest I've come across in any box set. In fact calling them cardboard is exaggerating a bit. You have to be very careful with the gatefold sleeves otherwise they can easily just bend and tear. OK it is a cheap set and I'm moaning, but cheaper sets have had sturdier sleeves. Add to this no booklet ( yeah, don't get me started ) so we only have the small print on the back for track listings. But if you can live with the not so great packaging, the music shines. But then you probably know that already.
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