Beards. Miles and miles of printed text have been generated by the luxuriant facial hair of two members of ZZ Top, while the long-running Texan band’s drummer named Frank Beard remains glaringly, stoically clean-shaven. The media always loved a good gimmick, but what they really should have been focused upon is a remarkable, consistent body of work, fuelled by first-rate musicianship – notably from guitarist Billy F Gibbons – and coloured admirably by barroom wit.
This 10-disc set tells the Top’s story, from humble blues-rock beginnings to an MTV-inspired reinvention and back again. There are no bonus tracks or sleevenotes, just simple replica cardboard sleeves, but boy, does the music do the trio’s talking for them.
The earthy, Southern-fried simplicity of 1970’s ZZ Top’s First Album clashes jarringly with the multimillion-selling Eliminator, which saw the trio attain belated household fame in 1983 by adding synthesizers and shooting a cartoonish trilogy of babe-enhanced videos that included Gimme All Your Lovin’ and Sharp Dressed Man.
For the price of around 25 quid, this compendium of the ‘Little ol’ band from Texas’ is one heck of bargain.