ZZ Top are Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame inductees, classic rock mainstays, beloved 1980s music video stars and one of the more misunderstood bands in music. Psychedelic survivors who shuffled out of Texas at the dawn of the 1970s with some of the finest and most genuine blues rock ever played they were initially pigeonholed as southern rock also-rans. Despite their roots music pedigree their influence is most keenly felt in the work of hard rockers like Motorhead, who covered them, and Queens Of The Stone Age, with whom guitarist Billy Gibbons has recorded. And while the Eliminator album, their 8th full-length overall, and its iconic music videos increased their audience exponentially, most of these new fans knew nothing about their earlier records.
One major stumbling block was that for years the only way you could properly hear the earlier material was by hunting down the original vinyl. In one of the most ill-advised re-mastering jobs of the digital era, when ZZ Top re-issued their albums on CD in 1987, they replaced the original drum trucks with the sequenced drum machines and slathered everything with tons of reverb and other “state of the art” digital effects. For fans of the original LPs and their down-home production and some of the greatest guitar tones ever put to tape, it was a musical crime. After years of fan requests and several half-measures, The Complete Studio Albums 1970-1990 box set finally presents the original recordings in the way they were meant to be heard.