Look, I understand George Lucas' desire to update his original Star Wars with all the latest in CGI technology, but does that make it right? No! The original was great and has been ingrained into our collective psyche as it was in 1977. In my world, Han Solo shot first, and we don't see Jabba the Hut for another few years. These attempts to rewrite history often fall flat and only serve to make the originals, that meant so much to our impressionable minds, hard to find. So imagine my disgust when I picked up the "ZZ Top Six Pack" cd box set. You see, I thought I was getting the first six ZZ Top albums in one handy box, saving myself time as well as money, two things I am painfully short on. But alas for woe, upon placing the cd in the player and hearing the opening launch of "Someone Else Been Shakin' Your Tree," followed by Frank Beard's thud, I felt as if I had been shot in the nutsack under the table by a cocky Corellian smuggler. The warm, homey sound of Beard's finessed playing had been replaced by the overbearing, gated '80s cocaine drum sound that marred ZZ Top's later records. And such is the case throughout all six albums, all digitally remastered to completely whitewash the dusty veneer of these precious albums. Why is anyone's guess, but I blame the age-old axiom that once an artist experiences massive success, they no longer can understand what made them appealing in the first place. An endless file of sycophantic yes-men are ever at the ready to tell them whatever corn-studded turd they are unleashing on their once adoring public is spun of angel hair and gold (see Metallica.) So I don't blame the Top themselves, they are mere mortals and problems have plagued these bearded champions from day one, and perhaps they were eager to rewrite a history that they see as less than joyous. The crime of this remaster of disaster is most evident on "Old Man," the album's only ballad, where Beard's fluttery snare work is totally devoured by that horrid reverb. What is most unnerving to me is that future generations, future civilizations even, might actually think this is what ZZ Top sounded like in the 1970s. Just like if I mention my love for this band to anyone born after 1975 they say "Oh, that band that did "Sharp-Dressed Man." Ugh!
But enough about this holocaust revisionism in the form of a rock and roll album, let's try to focus on what made the Texas trio so badass throughout the '70s. Well, for one, they were amazing players. Jimi Hendrix once sited Billy Gibbons as one of his favorite guitar players, and I have heard that this Jimi Hendrix guy was no slouch himself on the electric guitar. They had a chemistry and a telepathic bond like no other band and this shines through on all of their albums, even the absolutely shitty ones. Yes, they made shitty albums, quite a few actually, but between 1970 and 1977 there was no better bunch of bluesed-out ass kickers around. Then there are the themes explored in these fantastic tunes. ZZ Top songs are about two things and two things only, cars and poontang. Sometimes when you think they are singing about cars it's actually about pussy, and sometimes the snatch is actually a car. No other band has so thoroughly explored the similarities between automobiles and that certain part of a woman's anatomy. When Billy Gibbons sings of barbeque, he does not desire meat slapped on a grill, he only wishes to slap HIS "meat" on some young lady's "grill." The one exception may be "Squank" which seems to carry some sort of veiled ecological message, but then again, I could be wrong and "Squank" could be another euphemism for the ol' stinkin' Lincoln. So here it is, ZZ Top's glorious first album unremixed and unremastered for maximum listening pleasure.