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XXX leads us to believe ZZ longed to lose its image and write decent material. But the content of the songs, the publicity photos and public appearances lead us to believe Top is content with satisfying its diehards, simply because they buy lots of concert tickets. It's no wonder ZZ Top can't sell any new records. The band exists only in memory.

The Top-Skynyrd show takes place Friday, December 31, at 8:30 p.m. at Compaq Center, 10 Greenway Plaza. Call (713)629-3700 for tickets.

Whose New Year's Eve?

Not one, but two New Year's Eve bashes will take place this weekend in town. Both have music. Both have booze. And both will be littering the sky with bright lights. In addition to the city-sponsored event near Bayou Place, a block party called Downtown-Countdown is happening at Main and Prairie. It promises a light show at around the same time Bayou Place's fireworks will be going off. Great. But don't fear. Keep your money, stand somewhere down around Warren's, and enjoy both shows. But if you want to fork out the $35 for Downtown-Countdown, you might still make out. Spank the Monkey will perform, and DJs Chris Duke, Ducky & Skinner and Static will spin.

But if either party fails to arouse, you can always stay home and prepare for the Y2K battle.

Got a band to plug? A bitch to pitch? E-mail Anthony Mariani at anthony.mariani@houstonpress.com.

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