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Warner Home Video presents
ZZ Top Greatest Hits: The Video Collection (1983-1992)

"If I blow my top, will you let it go to your head?"
- ZZ Top (from Gimme All Your Loving)

Review By: Jeff Rosado   
Published: June 14, 2004

Stars: Billy Gibbons, Dusty Hill, Frank Beard
Director: Various

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (sexual images, sexuality, innuendo)
Run Time: 00h:50m:18s
Release Date: June 15, 2004
UPC: 603497032020
Genre: rock

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
A- B+BB- F

DVD Review

In the heyday of MTV (not the current incarnation that can't make up its mind whether it's a reality show network in disguise or a so-called music video channel), one of its mostly unlikely draws came in the form of a bluesy trio of musicians from Houston. Affectionately known to album-rock radio listeners as "that little 'ol band from Texas", ZZ Top took a huge leap from their cult following made possible by mid-'70s albums like Tres Hombres and Fandango! to big time national prominence courtesy of sexy, tongue-in-cheek clips that capitalized on music video attention grabbers of fast cars (or in the case of these clips, a classic 1933 Ford three-window coupe) and eye-catching babes with sly touches of satire. With the visuals perfectly complimenting the most memorable tracks from Elminator, their 1983 commercial breakthrough that spawned Gimme All Your Lovin', Sharp Dressed Man and Legs, singer-guitarist par none Billy Gibbons, soulful bassist-vocalist Dusty Hill, and ironically named timekeeper Frank Beard (the only member of the band at the time to not sport the Rip Van Wrinkle whiskers of his compadres) reined-in a whole new audience of fans while retaining most of the old faithful who were able to get past the fact they weren't going to be bringing back the Nudie suit concert wear and wolf-supplemented stages of yesteryear.

Yes, these guys were lovably eccentric even in the old days.

As a semi-companion piece to their recently released Rancho Texicano double CD retrospective, a DVD upgrade of their 1992 VHS clip compilation, ZZ Top Greatest Hits: The Video Collection takes us back to their glory days as keychain totin', street struttin' matchmakers able to swing furry guitars without breaking a sweat while delivering the musical goods on a dozen clips spanning 1983-1992. As a longtime fan, I must admit that seeing this incredible band get well deserved recognition on a mass scale was kind of a double edged victory. While I loved the videos too, I felt the music was vastly superior. Yet these guys became known as "the dudes with the beards, the car and the babes" amongst newer fans; it was like all those funky licks and great interplay were an afterthought. But, in time, most of them were smart enough to seek out the rock-hard gems in the back catalog like Just Got Paid and Francine to get a full picture of what the Top was capable of.

Still I have to smile when thinking of the night these guys debuted on The Tonight Show around the time of Afterburner with Johnny, Ed, and Doc donning mid-chest facial hair growth after their performance as a tip of the hat; not unlike the way Carson would give the OK to an up and coming stand-up comic. Like a prestigious credit card, membership to the Big Time comes with cool perks.

Greatest Hits is a fun ride back to that period; I'd forgotten how fun these clips were with the snazzy editing, goofy comedy, and, of course, the music (and, I'll admit it, the girls). Directed by some of the era's best video directors including Tim Newman (who received one of the very first MTV Video Awards for his work on Sharp Dressed Man), Steve Barron, and Daniel Kleinman, Collection's best moments come during tunes that downplay the trademark coupe and its comely passengers: the sci-fi influenced TV Dinners will most likely make you think twice before picking up one in the frozen foods section; Rough Boy's way cool space travel carwash motif with special effects that still impress; and the wonderfully campy Velcro Fly, complete with dance choreography by American Idol comeback queen Paula Abdul (the stories she could tell about working with those guys). Also impressive are the lesser-known promo films for Burger Man (which has fun parodying those low-budget horror flicks of the '50s) and Give It Up,which focuses on an adorable bulldog who becomes an instant convert courtesy of an impromptu drive-in movie starring our infamous Texas trio.

If there's any weakness other than the paltry 50-minute playing time, it's that no pre-Eliminator clips were included; there must be at least some presentable performance footage from the days of La Grange and Tush floundering in cobwebs ripe for locating. As for those suggesting more current footage, that would have been a tall order since the band currently calls RCA their recording home, as the 12 selections included date back to their stay at Warner Bros. But even though it's a straight duplication of material from its video cassette cousin, ZZ Top Greatest Hits-The Video Collection is as essential as barbecue and a pair of cheap sunglasses.

Rating for Style: A-
Rating for Substance: B+


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Rationo

Image Transfer Review: Some of the early clips may come across as grainy, but that was the look of the time on many a heavy rotation MTV video. Still, they come off a tad bit cleaner on this disc. Later efforts like Rough Boy, Give It Up and Burger Man fare much better thanks to richer colors and smoother visuals that reflect the technological improvements of the times in which they created.

Image Transfer Grade: B


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishyes
Dolby Digital

Audio Transfer Review: Hands down the biggest shortcoming of this disc are the 5.1 and DTS tracks that have nothing but pseudo ambience emerging from the rears. However, it would have been difficult to marry the multi-tracks of the original recording masters to the video counterparts which contained spurts of dialogue and sound effects. Still, I have to give props to the impressive low end, nice clarity to the vocals and stray moments when you notice a lick or two that sounded faint on the original albums. Although you'll have to crank 'em up a few notches, the original 2.0 mixes are included as well.

Audio Transfer Grade: B-


Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 12 cues and remote access
Packaging: Keep Case
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: Nada, amigos.

Extras Grade: F


Final Comments

Have mercy, Miss Percy! Frank, Dusty, and Billy have been digitalized! But they're still bad, still nationwide.


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