The Austin Chronicle

Phases and Stages


Reviewed by Christopher Gray, June 18, 2004, Music

ZZ Top

Greatest Hits: The Video Collection (Warner Bros.)

ZZ Top

Rancho Texicano: The Very Best of ZZ Top (Warner Bros.)

Whereas most bands of ZZ Top's vintage stood passively by while the MTV train blew past, the Houston trio hopped right aboard and turned in some of the most enduring videos of the network's early years. Of course, it's hard to go wrong with cars and girls, and the Eliminator trilogy of "Gimme All Your Lovin'," "Sharp Dressed Man," and "Legs" has both in spades. The cherry-red 1932 hot-rod Ford prowling desert highways and city streets, loaded with gamine Eighties supermodel types primed to pounce on unsuspecting mechanics and shoe-store clerks, remains iconic. The Lil' Ol' Band from Tejas were often bystanders in their own videos, materializing by the side of the road to execute some funky hand jive or toss the keys to the nearest Cheryl Tiegs clone. They also exhibited an odd tendency to gig in parking lots. The Afterburner period pushes things even further into the surreal, linking their dual fascinations with Egypt and outer space when the Eliminator blasts out of a pyramid as a much cooler space shuttle than anything NASA ever designed. Watching Billy, Frank, and Dusty shuffle through Paula Abdul's choreography in "Velcro Fly," which doubtless inspired the Bangles' "Walk Like an Egyptian," is as eye-popping as the microwave-spawned Claymation golem of "TV Dinners." For sheer strangeness, it's hard to beat "Burger Man," a black-and-white homage to Creature From the Black Lagoon in which a loutish construction worker falls into a pool of toxic waste, becomes a giant hamburger, and kidnaps a buxom young waitress. El Loco doesn't even begin to describe it. Released in conjunction with the DVD, Rancho Texicano pares last year's Chrome, Smoke & BBQ from four CDs to two, sacrificing deep cuts like "She's a Heartbreaker" and "Heaven, Hell, or Houston" for economy and portability's sake.

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