All-Time Albums: #94


ZZ TOP Eliminator

Gimme All Your Lovin 3:59 (UK single, #10 on 1984 re-release)
Got Me Under Pressure 3:59
Sharp Dressed Man 4:13 (UK single, #22 on 1984 re-release)
I Need You Tonight 6:14
I Got The Six 2:52
Legs 4:35 (UK single, #16 in remixed form Feb 1985)
Thug 4:17
TV Dinners 3:50 (UK single, #67)
Dirty Dog 4:05
If I Could Only Flag Her Down 3:40
Bad Girl 3:16


ZZ Top’s commercial breakthrough (especially in Britain) was one of those albums for which the sobriquet “sleeper hit” could have been invented. It reached its peak position on the UK chart almost two years after release, and all of its best-known songs/hits did better the second time around…or, in the case of Legs, in a version quite different from the mix on here.

Eliminator wasn’t the first ZZ Top album I ever bought (that was Afterburner). For a long time, well into the 1990s, it wasn’t even my favourite ZZ Top album (that was Afterburner). When I used to compile these All-Time lists, it wasn’t the highest-ranked ZZ Top album (that was…oh, you guessed). However, as the decades roll by, I have grown to realise that, yes, it’s the superior of the two. The synth-heavy Afterburner felt exciting at the time, and its Sleeping Bag / Stages one-two still gives me a rush, but as a whole the songs aren’t quite up to the same standard as its predecessor.

Eliminator has a warmth, a sense that the machines haven’t quite taken over to the same extent. It was quite a shock when I became aware of their previous work, without the seminal logo, without the car, and without that same chugging is-it-synth-or-is-it-guitar sound. The whole package for the campaign was so right in every way, I’d assumed the parts had all been in place for a while.

As it turned out, the band turned this era into a “trilogy” with Afterburner in 1985 and then Recycler in 1990, which attempted to get back to the blues-ier style of I Need You Tonight, Thug or Got Me Under Pressure…and with some success (its album cut 2000 Blues is stunning).


One comment

  1. ZZ Top’s “Eliminator” was their commercial breakthrough. Not only in the UK, but in Europe as well. The videoclips for “Gimme All Your Lovin”, “Sharp Dressed Man” and “Legs” played a huge role for this breakthrough. I’ve alwayls liked the singles and also great tracks like “Got Me Under Pressure” and “Thug”.

    Funny thing about ZZ Top is, that drummer Frank Beard the only one is who hasn’t got a beard.


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