Tag Archives: The Attractions

75 Essential Albums – Day #8 – ZZ Top – Eliminator

Here goes with day 8 of my countdown of 75 Albums that in my opinion should have a place in everyones music collection.  They are not in any particular order though the top 10 will be my personal take on the top 10 albums ever released.  You might be surprised at some of my picks and some of my omissions.  Feel free to chime in with your comments and let me know if you love (or hate my choices).

ZZ Top – Eliminator

It blows my mind that Eliminator was ZZ Top’s eighth album release. Eliminator was my real introduction to their music.  My excuse is that their music is somewhat removed from the Punk scene I was into at the time and this was their first real commercial success. What a success it was selling over 10 Million copies worldwide.  I must confess that the track ‘Legs’ with the line “She’s got legs and she knows how to use them” had a special meaning for me. My girlfriend at the time had great legs and overtime we went into our local pub the DJ would play that track 🙂

Whilst ZZ Top remained true to their Texas Blues Rock, Eliminator introduced the electronic and new Wave feel that was popular at the time into their music and doubtless this was in many ways responsible for the success of the album.  This is a truly excellent album it does not contain one filler song, as each individual track works well as a stand-alone song. In fact, one can claim that the whole is much less than the sum of this album’s parts.

Frank Beard’s simple rock drum beat sets the pace for the riff-driven “Gimme All Your Lovin’” which also sets the pace for the album.   “Sharp Dressed Man” is the most catchy of the hit songs and utilises a more traditional rock arrangement with some strange vocal effects being the only really synthesised parts.  The song reached the Top Ten on the mainstream rock charts and has remained one of the band’s most famous songs.  “I Need You Tonight” is led by Gibbons’s really soulful and bluesy guitar with an effect-laden edge and a dark feel.

The early part of the album’s second side is the best demonstration of the “synthesizer meets soul” sound which the group was aiming for on Eliminator. On “Legs” the synths are most prominent along with a consistent beat and very few chord changes. It has a great melody, clear hook, and some bluesy lead guitar licks. “Thug” is an eighties-style, synth-heavy song and “Dirty Dog” feels like a pure dance song.  The closing track “Bad Girl” is sung by Hill who uses a Little Richard-type, frantic voice in this old time rocker.

So Eliminator works really well as an exciting, hook laden feel good fusion of Blues-rock and synthesiser pop.  It remains a fun filled fresh album and is still hugely enjoyable.

75 Essential Albums – Day #6 Tom Waits – Mule Variations

Here goes with day 6 of my countdown of 75 Albums that in my opinion should have a place in everyones music collection.  They are not in any particular order though the top 10 will be my personal take on the top 10 albums ever released.  You might be surprised at some of my picks and some of my omissions.  Feel free to chime in with your comments and let me know if you love (or hate my choices).

Ok lets be frank here, Tom Waits isn’t everyone’s cup of tea.  There I said it.  His gruff throaty voice, his laconic and often maudlin lyrics turn many people off but (and its a huge but) very few people will ever write a song as good as Tom Waits’ very worst song. The songs on this album are far from Wait’s worst work in fact several tracks are right up there with his very best.

In my opinion Mule Variations is worth buying if the only good thing on the album was “Hold on”, one of my favourite tracks by anyone.  Who doesn’t love lyrics like “They put a sign up in our town, if you live it up you’ll never live it down” or “So he bought her a dime store watch and a ring made from a spoon”, classic Waits, clever insightful, cutting and witty.

The great tracks on this album are the slower ones “Pony,” “House Where Nobody Lives” and “Picture In a Frame” are all, in my opinion, up there amongst the great Waits tracks.  The album as a piece has that ‘one take recording’ feel of many of Waits best albums.  The production is sparse, no gimmicks and Waits is relaxed and confident, he is in good place.  Of course this is Tom Waits so the rattling percussion, the darkness, the aggression and the menace are all present.  It is perhaps this element that lead to ‘Hold on’ being used on the TV show ‘The Walking Dead’ recently something that has given the album a new lease of life.  More upbeat tracks like “Big in Japan,” “Filipino Box Spring Hog” and “Eyeball Kid” showcase Waits crazy and manic side.

Admittedly this may not be Waits greatest ever album but it is very very good and well worth the investment in time that will be required if the listener is to unearth the full reward from a top album.

75 Essential Albums – Day #2 Elvis Costello – Armed Forces

Here goes with day 2 of my countdown of 75 Albums that in my opinion should have a place in everyones music collection.  They are not in any particular order though the top 10 will be my personal take on the top 10 albums ever released.  You might be surprised at some of my picks and some of my omissions.  Feel free to chime in with your comments and let me know if you love (or hate my choices).

Armed forces released in 1979 was my introduction to Elvis Costello’s Albums.  I had heard the singles “Watching the Detectives’ and ‘I Don’t want to go to Chelsea’ on the radio of course but this was the first album I bought.  Costello was one of ‘New Wave music’s’ angry young men and quickly established himself as one of the most articulate songwriters rock music has ever seen.

Costello has always pushed the boundaries and Armed forces was no different, it was perhaps the most aggressive of his early albums.  It was not as immediately accessible as his first couple of albums but it was a grower and has hidden depths that are not immediately apparent. Armed Forces is extravagantly layered with a depth of instrumentation, a richer sound than earlier releases and multiple textures.

“Accidents Will Happen” and the similarly stunning “Oliver’s Army” are, in my opinion two of Costello’s finest ever songs.  They have catchy lyrics and complex melodies driven along by high energy rhythms and a powerful arrangement.  The high level of energy continues on ‘Big Boy’ and ‘Green Shirt’.  The attractions playing is as always flawless and  the complexity of Costello’s songwriting demand that the songs on Armed Forces are appreciated for their craftsmanship.  This is perhaps the album that set the template for Costello’s future sound, the point where he moved from angry young man to accomplished songwriter and performer.