Let's Talk About Zz Top's Afterburner Album

Discussion in 'What's left to Talk About?' started by toomanycats, May 21, 2020.

  1. toomanycats

    toomanycats Well-Known Member

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    I recently listened to this entire album on cassette while sitting in the sun in the backyard playing UNO with the wife. Yeah, I know, I live a glamorous life. Kidding aside, it made a big impact on me.

    First off, if this album doesn't bring you back to 1985, then you just weren't there. Everything about it, the production, synth tones, packaging, and videos just screams Reagan era MTV rock.

    Second, what is that guitar tone? @Eicca, c'mon, you've got to know, is this a Rockman? Sure sounds like it to me (despite all Gibbons "amp cabin" subterfuge).

    Here's my personal feelings about the different era's of ZZ Top.

    The 70s stuff, Tres Hombres, Fandango!, Deg├╝ello, and so on, are beyond amazing. From a strictly guitar standpoint, they're literally unsurpassable, some of the best tones ever recorded.

    Then there is Eliminator, which is radically different, but totally genius and undeniable. It was a master stroke of sonic and visual inspiration at exactly the right time, becoming a part of, shaping, and representing the mid 80s zeitgeist. The other day I told one of the other guys in my band that I loved this album and he looked at me as if I had just said my favorite dish is worms in marinara sauce. But I don't care, I love Eliminator front to back.

    Then there's Afterburner, which I like, though which I view as an inferior sequel to it's immediate predecessor. But the nostalgia factor is high for me with this album. In it I hear The Bangles "Walk Like an Egyptian", Was Not Was' "The Dinosaur"; there's monster trucks in the "Sleeping Bag" video just like in the film Roadhouse; they've got the Space Shuttle imagery. It's 1980s overload! It's probably the sound of ZZ Top "selling out" as hard as they can, but I love it.

    b053f386e19e77d062fa979e44aab55e--zz-top-sleeping-bags.jpg
     
    Last edited: May 22, 2020
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  2. toomanycats

    toomanycats Well-Known Member

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    Sleeping Bag Bump!

    sleeping-bag-for-adults-6.jpg
     
  3. fullonshred

    fullonshred Well-Known Member

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    I literally could not think of a single song from this album.

    I pretty much lost interest in ZZ after Eliminator. I made the mistake of buying "the old ZZ is back" hype with Antenna. Not a fan of that one either.

    Everything after Fandango was downhill, with a rare exception here and there.

    I doesn't get much better than this. One of the best lead sections anywhere ever.

     
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  4. Mikesr1963

    Mikesr1963 Well-Known Member

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    The bands playing is constant through out their history. Something else that doesn't change is the bands eye on change in the industry and what's going on around them. The use it each time they wrote music. Billy's legend of his 59 Les Paul being his sound is a small part; what's a bigger part is their willingness to use studio magic to make that sound bigger and better as it continues to develop. His sound on the first album was enhanced via the studio to create that ZZ Top vibe. It's one of the biggest disclosures that comes early in their documentary and they talk about how they continued that through out. I thing the Eliminator sound started with El Loco. El Loco, Afterburner, and XXX are the only albums of theirs I don't have.
     
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  5. toomanycats

    toomanycats Well-Known Member

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    How about "I'm Bad, I'm Nationwide" and "Cheap Sunglasses"? Love those tunes.

    That's right, apparently he didn't even use Pearly Gates on Eliminator, but opted for a Dean guitar instead, with ceramic pickups, played through a hybrid tube/solid state combo. Whatever gets the job done!
     
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  6. fullonshred

    fullonshred Well-Known Member

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    With a rare exception here or there. 1-2 songs on some albums. It was semi-gradual and then Afterburner just killed off what came after for me. I did like Pincushion off of Antenna, that song duped me into buying the CD.
     
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  7. JeffBeck

    JeffBeck Baldy McBaldhead

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    I always thought "Woke Up With Wood" was funny, but I flat out love "Stages". Definitely not as good an album as Eliminator, though.
     
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  8. Mikesr1963

    Mikesr1963 Well-Known Member

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    9 minutes in.
     
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  9. ackypoo

    ackypoo New Member

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    with the exception of 'got me under pressure' im not sure i like anything on eliminator, let alone after burner. but ill give another listen soon and reeavluate.
     
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  10. Chocol8

    Chocol8 Well-Known Member

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    Eliminator and afterburner were different but they were perfect for the time and really are still good today even if a bit cheesey. I am not a massive fan by any means, but there is no era of ZZ top that I don't like.
     
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  11. Chocol8

    Chocol8 Well-Known Member

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    I love the "Heavier strings for Billy....which are 8's"
     
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  12. toomanycats

    toomanycats Well-Known Member

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    7, 9, 11, 20, 30, 38

    Just wow.
     
  13. Veg McArtful

    Veg McArtful New Member

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    Rough Boy is one of my favorite ZZ Top songs but most of my favorites are all albums before Eliminator.
     
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  14. Chocol8

    Chocol8 Well-Known Member

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    I have been playing EB 8 11 14 22 30 38 since August/September time frame. The first few weeks they were so loose and sliding all over the neck, it felt like they were virtually unplayable. Now the same strings feel stiff sometimes! The switch required minor adjustments on the guitars and larger adjustments to the hands and brain!

    FWIW, Gibbons 8's are 8 10 12 20 30 40 so lighter on the B and G string but heavier on the low E.
     
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  15. manco53

    manco53 Well-Known Member

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    I feel like if I just hit the string it would be pitchy
     
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  16. Rollin Hand

    Rollin Hand Well-Known Member

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    Eliminator introduced me to ZZ Top. And that is a good thing. But people focus on the singles a lot, and forget there was more classic stuff that wasn't on MTV like "Bad Girl" or...basically everything after "Thug" on side two.

    On Afterburner, they really dialed up the synths,and that hasn't aged overly well. But "Rough Boy".... that is some fine playing (yes, as I understand it, it was through a Rockman, @toomanycats).

    Other later stuff sounds great too. "She's Just Killing Me" effing rocks. And I like "I Gotsta Get Paid" a lot, even if by mentioning it, I have stuck it in my head for the next two days. Dammit.
     
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  17. Rollin Hand

    Rollin Hand Well-Known Member

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    You don't wanna be pitchy, dawg.
     
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  18. Eicca

    Eicca Well-Known Member

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    That certainly sounds like Rockman. But in light of all the internet info that insists that it isn't, I could believe that's it's just a very similar tone, given the craze for that sound at the time. There's something about the clipping that sounds just a little grittier than a Rockman can do. The album tone is also missing both the echo and chorus effects, which only the Soloist module can do. The X100 and all prior models could disable chorus OR echo but not both, and the chorus is non-adjustable and very distinct.

    I could be convinced either way.
     
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  19. DonM

    DonM Well-Known Member Supporting Member+ Supporting Member

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    I have it and still like it too. Always liked Rough Boy
     
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  20. Raindog

    Raindog Well-Known Member

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    DITTO to everything my buddy, @fullonshred , just said, with the possible exception that they peaked with Deguello. We don't agree on a lot musically but he hit a home run with the above comment. He would probably disagree with me on this but I liked El Loco. I don't really consider it a ZZTop album as much as just a fun little ditty album, if that makes sense. But after one, I'd had enough. I put El Loco in the same category with Neil Young's Trans and other WTF albums from established bands.

     
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