REVIEW: ZZ Top – Eliminator (Collector’s Edition)

Aaron says this is the first cassette he ever bought! He picked a good ‘un.

ZZ TOP – Eliminator (2008 CD+DVD Collector’s Edition, Warner)

Consider all earlier CD releases “eliminated”!

Say what you will about ZZ Top’s foray into 80’s music.  Using sequencers and compression on the drums wasn’t everybody’s cup ‘o java, but it sure made ZZ Top millionaires.  I like this album. Reverend Billy Gibbons’ guitar tone was so sweet on this album. It’s so smooth and creamy, I just love the tone. This might be my favourite album of his, purely for guitar tone. Just listen to that sweet picking on the album version of “Legs”. Man, how does he get that sound?

The original album has been lovingly remastered, with the original album version of “Legs” restored. However, fear not, the single version is still here as a bonus track. Other bonus tracks include live versions, the most exciting of which is a fiery “I Got The Six”. And hey, if you don’t like the techno sounds of the album, the live tunes give you an idea of what they’re like stripped down to the bone…like a juicy rack of ribs, meat falling right off.  It’s cool how Frank Beard is just as metronomic on the live versions. He’s not a flamboyant drummer, but he’s definitely solid. Just like the Beatles wouldn’t have sounded the same without Ringo, or the Stones without Charlie, Frank is essential to that whole ZZ “Je ne sais quoi?”

I like the whole album, with only a few songs I call filler, such as “Thug”. I always enjoy hearing “Sharp Dressed Man”. I don’t know how all these years later I’m not sick of it, but I’m not. “TV Dinners” always makes me smile. Really, will these guys write about anything?

“I Need You Tonight” is one of those smooth ZZ Top blues.  It’s slick, but unquestionably still blues.  “If I Could Only Flag Her Down” is another blues based standout.  This one’s a bit more of a boogie.  Finally, “Bad Girl” (sung by Dusty Hill) is pure rock and roll.

The DVD is cool.  You get the original music videos and some live TV performances.  If you’re a ZZ Top fan (and for your own happiness, I hope that you are) I think you will enjoy the video stuff. Liner notes are also ample.

5/5 stars.  It’s never too late to pick it up!

Click the pic of the Ford to see yesterday’s gallery of the Monogram ZZ Top Eliminator model kit!


…and here’s your CD gallery.


  1. It’s not hard to realise why ZZ Top became huge as in HUGE with this album. They really had it all in there to reach a broad audience. The songs were poppy enough to reach commercial radio and they were also rock enough to keep most of their rock audience, the videos were fun to watch and had all the girls and cars you would need to reach heavy rotation.
    But for me, this is when the downfall began. Synthesizers? Sequencers? Programmed drums? And this was only the beginning because things would get much worse. Afterburner and Recycler were ZZ Top’s weakest albums and they still are to this day.
    I’m not gonna say that Eliminator is bad album, but to me this isn’t what I want in a ZZ Top album. In reality, they had begun cheating with this stuff already on El Loco, its predecessor, but that album still had the ZZ Top sound. I’d give it a 6/10.
    I was afraid ZZ Top would never recover, but their latest album La Futura was all class.


    1. La Futura is a great record. I love it. Afterburner had one tune I like a lot (Rough Boy) and Recycler had Doubleback…that’s about it though, isn’t it? I never heard Antenna…


        1. Good calls Harrison. Afterburner is an album I don’t know as well, but I think Sleeping Bag is pure awesome, and Rough Boy? Still gives me the chills 30+ years later…


  2. Oh man, your reviews are getting right under my skin recently. I’ve been listening to FNM since your Angel Dust post, I’ve looked out Ultimate Sin for a listen and now this! This is a great album/reissue and I loved the DVD that came with it. Their performance on The Tube is awesome.


    1. Welcome to Official HMO Under My Skin CD Review series. I do hope you’ll stick around for the ride. Can LeBrain read his mind yet again? Only time will tell…



        1. Alas, I can all but guarantee you that tomorrow’s review will not be your thing. Ahh well. I could change the schedule and try to cheat but I won’t :)


  3. This was the first album I ever bought with my own money. On cassette. I still have it, the cassette cartridge is white plastic.

    I keep telling myself I need this on CD (or vinyl), and never seem to get to it. I should, I remember loving it immensely – because it was the only tape I had I played it to death…

    This is a cool version of the record, but I have some birthday money and am eyeing that box set of all the early albums…


    1. Haha I just saw the text in red across the top of your post, only AFTER I posted that comment. My eye went right to the picture, first time around… So yeah. I just repeated the story.


    2. Mmmmm. Yeah. That’s a nice looking box set. Some first-ever CD releases in there too.

      I do have the 4 CD Chrome, Smoke & BBQ box set, in lieu of the older albums. I won’t say it’s “all” the ZZ Top that I need, but it’s a very very good box set. In fact it’s very photogenic and will amazing when I eventually review it.


  4. Love this album the yr it came out and still love it! I’m like u Mike I never ever get sick of these tracks….this was released when I was 17 and I was into Maiden,Priest,Acdc..u know the usual suspects and man when I heard Gimmie All Your Lovin man I was hooked. For sure the synth sound the dirty Gibbons guitar tone sold me plus the vocals were kinda nasty as well…I could see how the diehards were like what?? With the use of synths etc…but man this thing is a masterpiece….
    Started following these guys after this release thru thick and thin and well u know my deal with La Futura!


    1. I sure do, you were one of a select trusted voices that pursuaded me to give it a try! La Futura rocks.

      For me I heard ZZ Top at the time this album came out, and I was starting to get into hard rock. Quiet Riot were my fave band at the time and I liked them more than ZZ, but damned if this hasn’t stood the test of time a lot better than Conditional Critical did…

      Billy Gibbons is absolutely a guitar hero to me. The radio played “Beer Drinkers & Hell Raisers” today…my fave Top track…and I continue to be blown away.


      1. Wasn’t Condition Critical a pretty failed attempt to rewrite Metal Health? By failed, I mean that it didn’t sell remotley as well as MH. I think CC was a really good album, even though they were trying to reapet everything they did on MH. Those things usually never works. Just ask Whitesnake. Don’t get me started on QR III though. All that album had was The Wild And The Young and a brilliant bass player.

        Billy Gibbons is a killer. Both as a guitar player and as a vocalist. I love his raw voice on La Futura.


        1. Oh QRIII. From “The Wild and the Young” I expected so much! When I finally got it, there were songs like “The Pump”? “So let’s pump, pump, pump, pump!” Better keep pumping — the well has run dry!


  5. I know I’ve told my own story about ZZ Top and this album often enough, but I’m glad my good pal Craig suggested I reassess my views on Billy & Co. Tgis is easily in my top 5 Top albums (Tres Hombres, Tejas, La Futura and Fandango! make up the rest – nods to Deguello and Antenna).

    Great review, Mike.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Aw, man. ‘Thug’ is so cool when it comes on in the car. ‘You look like who you say your are, so scoot over let me drive your car’. So coooool. I love this album. I’ve seen this at Sunrise records a few times and have been on the fence. At $17 I might have to grab it.

    Liked by 1 person

        1. I wouldn’t sell the old CD, the remaster is dreadful.
          Also FWIW, Frank Beard (and Dusty Hill) barely played on this album. By now, the Wikipedia entry is pretty accurate according to what Linden Hudson (co-writer of several tunes on this album, but cheated out of his royalties) and Terry Manning (engineer and a big reason of why ZZ Top used to sound great) have said over the years.

          Liked by 1 person

    1. Afterburner is a great album. I have to review it still. But I think when it comes to using too much technology, there is a sweet spot. Eliminator was pretty perfect, but Afterburner overshot the mark just a hair.

      Liked by 1 person

        1. I try to keep up. I hate missing comments but life is what it is sometimes. I try not to stay glued to my screen too long each day. I appreciate every single comment even when I don’t respond.

          Liked by 1 person

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