Ranking ZZ Top's '80s Videos
Screenshot via Locke Bryan Productions
Those seeking a tasty holiday treat need look no further than Billy F. Gibbons' new Fiesta ads; our favorite is the one where the ZZ Top singer/guitarist breaks down his recipe for homemade tamales while wearing an adorable "BFG" apron. It's obvious the camera loves the right Reverend, and it's not exactly shy about winking at his bandmates Dusty Hill and Frank Beard, either.
The Top has been laying low while Hill recuperates from the fall that sidelined him with an injured hip last September, a few days before the band was scheduled to play the Cynthia Woods Pavilion with Jeff Beck. (Make-up date is May 2, by the way.) Anyway, all of this is to say that those Gibbons spots -- we just caught the new "Christmas" one typing this Wednesday night -- got us thinking about all those great videos ZZ made back in the '80s. From there it was a short hop to all the ones that maybe weren't so great, but have retained a certain hairspray-and-Velcro charm. So happy holidays, all you sharp dressed men and women.
Plot: Friday the 13th meets Scooby Doo, maybe? Featuring ZZ Top as: Good samaritans. Girls? Mourners at a funeral(!). Guitars: The poodles are back, albeit different models than the "Legs" instruments. Eliminator's Role: Monster-truck nemesis. Random Detail: Space shuttle blasts out of a pyramid, signifying start of ZZ's "NASA" period. Plausibility: 1. Kind of a hot mess.
Plot: Missed sparking the "Walk Like an Egyptian" craze by a cruel twist of fate. Featuring ZZ Top as: Creepy dudes ogling the dancers or imitating Steve Martin's "King Tut" dance. Girls? Marie Antoinette meets Frederick's of Hollywood. Guitars: Double-necked. Eliminator's Role: Hieroglyphics. Random Detail: Halfway through, cuts to vintage black-and-white dance footage that is more entertaining than the actual video. Plausibility: 2. Total trash, but a fun song for such a throwaway.
Plot: Mostly live footage as seen on a TV on a broken-down satellite in outer space. Featuring ZZ Top as: (Drum roll...) ZZ Top! Girls? Plenty on people's shoulders in various crowd shots. Guitars: White, solid-body, nothing special. Eliminator's Role: Must be in the garage. Random Detail: ZZ logo seen as a keychain in other videos is here embossed on the satellite. Plausibility: 5. Not quite one of ZZ's A-list tunes, but makes an acceptable "tribute to the fans."
"SHARP DRESSED MAN"
Plot: Clean shirt, new shoes...you know the rest. Featuring ZZ Top as: entertainment at the bar where our hero takes -- and then gives -- pimpin' lessons. Girls? Check. Guitars: Classy black-and-white jobs. Eliminator's Role: Providing change of clothes. Random Detail: Co-stars one very frustrated valet. Plausibility: 6. More or less the plot of 1987 Michael J. Fox flick The Secret of My Success.
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Plot: Nightwatchman grabs something to eat from the freezer; things don't quite go as planned. Featuring ZZ Top as: Televised group clad in coveralls a la Devo. Girls? Looks like it's been a while since this guy has had a date. Guitars: Barely present. Eliminator's Role: Pole Position-style arcade game. Random Detail: Loaded with vivid EC Comics-like pulp imagery. Plausibility: 7. Genuinely weird; perhaps intended as a PSA to promote microwave safety.
Plot: Mousy but secretly foxy heroine fends off douchey customers until a trio of Rodeo Drive types whisk her away for the ultimate '80s makeover. Featuring ZZ Top as: Keepers of the keys who later set up shop in a strip-mall parking lot. Girls? All over the place. Guitars: The "poodle" models. Eliminator's Role: Supermodel taxi! Random Detail: The slice of cake some poor shlep carries from scene to scene. Plausibility: 8. According to 9 to 5, this kind of thing happened all the time in the early '80s.
Plot: See "Eliminator's Role." Featuring ZZ Top as: Paintings; disembodied hands. Girls? Shapely pair of female legs with a "Don't Walk" sign where the rest of her should be. Guitars: Rough-looking, appropriately enough. Eliminator's Role: Docks at some some sort of space station...to get washed. Random Detail: Fetishistic camera really loves that car. Plausibility: 8. Oddly compelling and vaguely unsettling...art, man.
"GIMME ALL YOUR LOVIN''"
Plot: A young grease monkey's mind is blown. Featuring ZZ Top as: the funkiest gas-station attendants you've ever seen. Girls? Impossibly overdressed for the middle of the desert. Guitars: Normal-looking. Eliminator's Role: Possible mirage. Random Detail: Price of gas is $1.18/gallon. Plausibility: 9. Those unleaded prices keep on dropping...
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