By the time Texas blues rockers ZZ Top released their eighth studio album Eliminator in 1983, the trio was a well-oiled machine. The group had yet to chart a No. 1 single or album, but songs like the top 20 “Tush” (from 1975’s Fandago) and the top 5 “Tube Snake Boogie” (from 1981’s El Loco) had garnered them a solid following.
When Eliminator dropped, guitarist/vocalist Billy Gibbons, bassist/vocalist Dusty Hill and drummer Frank Beard were already a household name, but fans who’d grown accustomed to ZZ Top’s raw blues rock sound had a huge surprise waiting for them when they popped Eliminator into the stereo.
ZZ Top had begun to incorporate keyboards into their music by the time they released Eliminator. While this type of left curve might have spelled the end for most bands, ZZ flourished. Songs like the disc-opening stomper “Gimme All Your Lovin’,” along with greasy rockers “Legs,” “Got Me Under Pressure” and “Sharp Dressed Man,” became radio staples (and later rock classics).
The band hit all the right notes on Eliminator. The songwriting was exceptional, as was the production. Even non-singles like “I Got The Six” and “Bad Girl” were topnotch. There wasn’t one dud among the eleven tracks, a rare feat for an album in the ’80s. The disc sold over ten million copies in the United States, while four of the albums five singles were top 20 hits. Only “TV Dinners” failed to break the top 20 (it stalled just inside the top 40).
Eliminator was named one of the 100 Greatest Albums of The ’80s, and still finds its way into this scribe’s deck often.