Formed in 1970, Texas Rock trio ZZ Top really hit the big-time with their ninth studio album; 1983s ‘Eliminator.’ Famous for their facial hair as much as for their blues-laden sound, ‘Eliminator’ saw ZZ Top ride the wave of a nascent MTV, hitting TV screens with a mixture of girls, cars and guitars. Although existing fans may not have enjoyed the direction that ZZ Top took, as they’re their previously rough and ready, spit and sawdust sound with studio effects, the new feel paid off.
The band’s drummer, Frank Beard (incidentally the only member without a beard!), opened the album with a driving beat for the hit single, ‘Gimme All Your Lovin,’ while the wry, ‘Legs’ and the stellar ‘Sharp Dressed Man’ also made their mark on the early 80s single’s charts. Across the album, Dusty Hill’s sturdy bass completed the back-bone of ZZ Top, while Billy Gibbons’ guitar licks maintained an impressive edge as he moved from a rhythmic style to Hendrix-like lead guitar flourishes. There is a really assured feel to the sound, such as on the swaying, ‘TV Dinners.’
The eleven tracks offer quality moments of Blues influenced American Rock, such as on the laid-back, ‘I Need You Tonight’ and the swinging, ‘If I Could Only Flag Her Down.’ However, the real stand-out moments, alongside the singles, come via the forceful ‘I Got The Six,’ the gritty ‘Dirty Dog,’ and the album’s rocking finale, ‘Bad Girl.’
While very much a product of the time this album still hits nearly 30 years since, it was first released, and represents one of the highest moments for the much-lauded trio. As a slice of classic Rock, ZZ Tops ‘Eliminator’ is certainly worth (re) investigating in 2012.