Wednesday, March 20, 2013


ZZ Top added synthesizers to their taut Texas boogie and gunned the engine of their custom 1933 Ford Coupe to eliminate the competition for their slickist, most successful album.  'Eliminator' features Billy Gibbons on guitar and vocals; Dusty Hill on bass, keyboards, and vocals; Frank Beard on drums and percussion.  The band's manager Bill Ham produced the sessions, with engineer Terry Manning providing considerable technical assistance on the "SpectraSonics by Auditronics" mixing console.  

Gibbons recalls:    "We had returned from the road to our second home in Memphis, Tennessee, right there at Ardent Studios, which had played host to all the recordings from 1973 through the decade, landing us right back in Studio B to start peeling the onion, to use that phrase, on a series of recordings soon to become tagged as the 'Eliminator' sessions. What’s interesting is Memphis, much like Houston, has a strident element of blues and R&B that characterizes and colors a lot of the musical expressions that have been present since the ‘40s. Even the ‘30s.  I think the Texas thing might be slightly different than what you find in Memphis. [That] was the first stopoff place. As you walked – and believe me, literally walking out of Mississippi. In the ‘30s, not too many people that were trying to leave Mississippi had automobiles. They were walking out of Mississippi, and Memphis was about as far as you could get on foot, so it made it a convenient resting place and I think the phenomenon of Beale Street being a hotbed of music, nightclub scenes, the red-light district, you name it – if you wanted action, you found yourself on Beale Street...Basically, that lent probably the strongest element of musical expression that still exists today. One thing we’ve learned from our days in both Houston and Memphis, it’s about composition, it’s about learning to play what you wanna hear. In the last twenty years, music has fragmented into things that are just [chuckles] sound experimentation. Sometimes you hear what you may not want to be hearing, but that doesn’t play into the hand of what comes out of Houston and Memphis. They at least have that in common.  Back in ’83, when we went into the studio, there were two things present. We were focused on getting good time. We were liberating ourselves from the stage antics of speeding up and slowing down; we were focused on keeping solid tempo, establishing a groove and holding it. And to propel that into what later became known as our experimental period, a lot of the musical manufacturers were starting to offer contraptions making musical sounds that had never been heard before...Moog was putting out fuzz-tone pedals that out-fuzzed the fuzz. Our famous soliloquy to all of this is we marched in with crazy instruments under one arm, and we were using the other arm to throw the manual away. We found ourselves back in that experimental place where we didn’t necessarily know what we were doing, but we just kept twisting knobs and pressing buttons until we heard what we liked hearing. A lot of that stuff wound up on the record."

'Eliminator' was a worldwide smash, racing to thirteen in Sweden and Norway, eleven in Switzerland, nine in the US, four in Austria and New Zealand, three in the UK, and number two in Australia.  In the US alone, the album sold more than ten million copies.

'Gimme All Your Lovin'' drove up the charts around the world, going to eighty-two in Australia, thirty-nine in Germany, thirty-seven on the US pop chart, thirty-three in Switzerland, ten in the UK, nine in Ireland, eight in the Netherlands, and number two on the US hot mainstream rock tracks chart.

'Sharp Dressed Man' came running just as fast as it could to number sixty-six in Australia, fifty-six on the US pop chart, twenty-two in the UK, nine in the Netherlands, and number eight in Ireland and on the US hot mainstream rock tracks chart.

'Legs' walked up to thirty-five in the Netherlands, sixteen in the UK, nine in Ireland, eight on the US pop chart, seven in New Zealand, six in Australia, and number three on the US hot mainstream rock tracks chart.

full album:

All songs written by Billy Gibbons, Dusty Hill and Frank Beard.

1. "Gimme All Your Lovin'"   3:59
2. "Got Me Under Pressure"   4:00
3. "Sharp Dressed Man"   4:13
4. "I Need You Tonight"   6:14
5. "I Got the Six"   2:52
6. "Legs"   4:35
7. "Thug"   4:17
8. "TV Dinners"   3:50
9. "Dirty Dog"   4:05
10. "If I Could Only Flag Her Down"   3:40
11. "Bad Girl"   3:16

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