Happy Birthday, Eliminator: Three Decades Of ZZ Top's Iconic Album
I can't be the only one on Earth, or even in Houston, who thinks that ZZ Top's 1983 album Eliminator should be played at ear-bleeding levels. Yes, even "Dirty Dog" and "Thug." By the time you get past "I Got The Six" and "Legs" you need a breather anyway.
Today Eliminator turns 29, releasing wide on March 23, 1983. This really should make the ol' boy 30 years old, considering the thing was recorded in 1982, but you don't celebrate the day you were conceived, now do you? What is important is the day you busted the hatch on life and began walking among us.
Since its release, the album has sold in excess of 10 million copies across the world, according to sales figures. Chances are at least everyone under the age of 70 in the Houston area owns, or has owned, at least one copy.
The album is pretty much perfect, able to unite most everyone at a given party. If you can't at least move a finger to "Got Me Under Pressure" then you don't really exist. Even the cover art, featuring the "Eliminator" hot rod is a thing of legend. There was a point in time when even the memories of seeing the chopped 1933 Ford around Houston were cherished family heirlooms.
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Let me now go on record and say that I wouldn't mind my ashes being held inside an urn that looks like the Eliminator.
The album is 11 straight slices of raunch. It's loud, fun and dumb. There are synths in all the right places, and in the right light it sounds like Kraftwerk attempting to make a Jimi Hendrix record. Growing up -- me and Eliminator are only a month apart in age -- my first impression of the album was seeing it in my Uncle Kelly's record collection, and then seeing the videos.
Oh, the videos.
By the time I was watching MTV in the mid-'80s, the videos had long passed into channel lore. The girls, the cars, the band, all forming this fuzzy scene where a mere hot rod and a top hat was enough to lay some frizzy-haired beauty at the gas station.
A geeky teen at home was empowered by the fantasy, but I have a feeling that more Billy, Dusty, and Frank it was reality. The freakin' car and the women inside it saved the lives of teens all across the world, or at least the ones in the music videos.
I guess ZZ purists will tell you that the "best" album of theirs is either Tres Hombres or Degüello, but saying there has to be a best one is a disservice to our local heroes. None of these people will tell you that Eliminator is, but I will, because I don't like lying to myself.
The album's first six cuts can't be bested -- from "Gimme All Your Lovin'" to "Legs" you simply cannot bury the volume far enough to the right to do it justice. Eliminator only cares about making you smile.
There are no deep meanings, no political messages, and there are mentions of Mexican food in at least every other song.
Did I mention it was loud?
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