[New Wave Blues-Rock] -- ZZ Top, that little ol' band from Texas (which was the title of a 2019 documentary about said band), had been doing the little ol' band thing since their debut in 1969. And their thing was mainly blues rock, but they included enough boogie rock to keep it interesting. And 1983 was certainly interesting for ZZ Top. Eliminator, the band's eighth studio album, was released 40 years ago this week, on March 23, 1983. But it was not their 1980s debut. That distinction goes to 1981's El Loco, which was a fine record with some respectable charting action; it even went Gold. But El Loco didn't have any of the impact of Eliminator.
Eliminator was very much a product of its time, and it surprisingly launched ZZ Top into hip and cool status with the MTV generation. Their music videos, coupled with the polished synth grooves on this record, made the Texas trio popular with a capital "P." And those hits carried the album into top ten status in the US and around the world (Australia, Canada, The Netherlands, New Zealand, and the UK). It was even a top 25 record in Germany, Norway, Sweden, and Switzerland.
All four singles -- "Gimme All Your Lovin,'" "Sharp Dressed Man," "TV Dinners," and "Legs" -- were pretty much international hits. Even "TV Dinners," the lowest charting single, still managed to peak in Billboard's top 40. The music videos featured guitarist Billy Gibbons' then newly customized 1933 Ford coupe, which also graced the album cover. That car is known as the "Eliminator" coupe, but the album name came first, and it's a reference to a drag racing term. Oh, and the "Legs" video featured the debut of the band's patented spinning guitars (I think they're patented, or trademarked maybe; they're just very recognizable)
I love all facets of ZZ Top's catalog. I was kind of raised on some of their older stuff through AOR radio and my Dad's love of 1960s and 1970s rock music. But this record holds some great memories for me. It's like they made it for my generation. So, for at least a short while in the early 1980s, these old boys from Texas shed their status as old-fogeys from the local radio station's glory days, and MTV's audience embraced them. At least, like I said, for a while.
Flashback: Eliminator (March 23, 1983)
That's all for the Flashback till next week. Dedicated 80s-philes can find more flashbacks in the Prophet or Madman archives or via Bookended's 80s Flashback tag. As always, your comments are welcome on today's, or any other, flashback post. And if you like what I'm doing here, please share the link with your friends. If, however, you don't like the flashback, feel free to share it with your enemies.
I'll see you in seven!