Eliminator (Collector's Edition), and Live From Texas (Warner Bros. / Rhino)

ZZ Top

Eliminator (Collectors Edition) (Warner Bros./Rhino)

ZZ Top

Live From Texas (Eagle Rock Entertainment)

Video didn't kill the classic-rock star, but it wasn't kind to the unpretty ones. By contrast, ZZ Top's stylistic evolution from Nudie suits and onstage livestock to gratuitously bearded Mad Max refugees served them well as videos for "Gimme All Your Lovin'," "Sharp Dressed Man," and "Legs" launched the Houston trio into superstardom. According to Eliminator's video triptych, synth-tinged blues-guitar heroics, a cherry antique car, and wily women with perky nipples were all you needed to escape the lowly service caste. AOR staple "Got Me Under Pressure" and double-entendre dropping "I Got the Six" sealed the deal. No wonder ZZ Top won a 1984 Saturday Night Live phone poll to pick the Democratic presidential nominee. Since no cable subscriber who lived through the mid-1980s can hear Eliminator without recalling its attendant imagery, a DVD of the album's videos and an above-average live British TV performance from 1983 is the 25th anniversary reissue's most distinguishing feature. Otherwise, the bonus live tracks are of middling sound quality, and the dance mix of "Legs" is laughable. Also making the VH1 Classic rounds is Live From Texas, a concert-length DVD of a 2007 show at the Nokia Theatre in Grand Prairie. The trio runs hits like "Just Got Paid" and "Cheap Sunglasses" in fine form for the cameras, though "Heard It on the X" misses the studio version's mojo. Latter-day tunes like "Rough Boy" and "Pin Cushion" exemplify the steadily diminishing returns on a quarter-century of Eliminator derivations. As producer of the Top's next LP, Rick Rubin could do a lot worse than to lock up the synthesizers and throw away the silver "ZZ" keychain.

(Eliminator) ***

(Live From Texas) **

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