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From greatness to decline,
This review is from: Greatest Hits (Audio CD)
There's no doubt that from day one ZZ Top were a class act. Billy Gibbons had already shown his teeth as a guitarist in the late 1960s before helping found this formidable trio. Perhaps, though, they just became fed up with blowing bands off every stage in Texas and earning a reputation. With the "Eliminator" album they went for the commercial jugular, a mission that this collection represents.
The first few bars of "La Grange" offer a glimpse of the style that earned their initial reputation, earthy blues with the devil looking on. What little 1970s material is on show here however seems to have been buffed up so as not to make it sound too incongruous. More typical is the cover of "Viva Las Vegas", the title of which aptly describes their new-found gloss. In short, they decided to cash in. There's nothing wrong with courting the chart scene, of course. Tracks like "Sharp Dressed Man" and "Got Me Under Pressure" are irresistible chunks of hard driving boogie. But when ZZ Top don't hit the bullseye with this stuff they tend to be way off target.
"Legs" is a fine track, but the programmed rhythms are ominous. After this recording came tracks like "Sunglasses" and "Planet of Women", which are killed stone dead by that awful flat, synthetic 1980s influence. They should have steered well clear of it. "Eliminator" contains all you need of this kind of approach and is a better purchase, as are ZZ Top's early albums.