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ZZ Top: That Little Ol' Band from Texas (Netflix, Documentary)

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Directed by Sam Dunn (shitload of music docs) and featuring the trio and their history.  You will be amazed that Frank Beard survived the 70s.    Features a performance from Gruene Hall shot just for the documentary.   Dropped a few days ago.

Did  not know Billy Gibbons opened for Jimi Hendrix.

 

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I'm about halfway through.  It's really well done, and bad ass.

ZZ Top is one of those bands that's always been big, but I think in recent years people (I know I'm in this camp) are really appreciating how fucking good they were for the first time.  I've always liked them, but they've risen a tier or two in my mind over the past 4-5 years.

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34 minutes ago, Al_4_ISU said:

I'm about halfway through.  It's really well done, and bad ass.

ZZ Top is one of those bands that's always been big, but I think in recent years people (I know I'm in this camp) are really appreciating how fucking good they were for the first time.  I've always liked them, but they've risen a tier or two in my mind over the past 4-5 years.

I’m in that camp.  My dad had their early albums, and I liked them, but didn’t necessarily seek them out on my own.   My image was formed by their MTV videos, and that distorted my view.    I didn’t realize how respected they were by their peers, I didn’t realize just what they did early on, and for some reason, it never clicked just how talented they were until a few years ago    

The notion of Billy Gibbons hanging out and watching the punk scene in England, or going to India for the whole enlightenment thing really surprised me.   

I love that they did a concert early on for just one guy, played the whole thing with an encore, bought him a Coke, and he would continue to come to their concerts years later.    

It also reinforces just how crazy it is with how some bands form.  If those two guys had not been drafted, we might not have what ZZ Top became.  

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4 minutes ago, atomheartbevo said:

My image was formed by their MTV videos, and that distorted my view.

There's really pre- and post- Eliminator ZZ Top.  People don't seem to realize that they had been a successful band for a decade prior.

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Thanks for the heads up. Definitely watching this tonight.

I used to work in a recording studio in Houston where they would practice before touring. Unfortunately never met the band.

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1 hour ago, TwiceHorn said:

There's really pre- and post- Eliminator ZZ Top.  People don't seem to realize that they had been a successful band for a decade prior.

I came to pre-eliminator ZZ Top later too.  My formative ZZ experiences were Eliminator as well.  Probably three or four years later when I'd picked up the guitar myself and started seeing older ZZ stuff tabbed in the magazines and hearing it on the radio.  "Oh, those 'Legs' guys did that song about the whorehouse? Cool."  - Chad F., circa 1988

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I know a studio owner & engineer who worked on a bunch of their stuff.  He remains quite chagrined about the drum approach on that record.

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I know a studio owner & engineer who worked on a bunch of their stuff.  He remains quite chagrined about the drum approach on that record.

I am also chagrined about it and I was only 7 years old.

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Posted (edited)

Deguello was my first contemporary Top album.  I worked backward from there.  Was happy as hell for their MTV/Eliminator success, but didn't enjoy them as much.

Before Deguello, I mistakenly believed that they were some kind of hairy hippie band just from the odd image and the name.

Pearl Necklace and Tube Snake Boogie were double-entendre high school standards.  

Edited by TwiceHorn

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Tres Hombres first album I ever bought with my own money. Wore the grooves off that thing. Preferred the pre MTV version alot more.

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1 hour ago, BonzoMontreaux said:

Good stuff.  A few LOL moments.  Frank Beard is a funny man.  

And has a nice house on Lake Travis.   

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Hope I can download and watch it plane tomorrow. 
 

Used to own all vinyl pre Eliminater days. One of my faves ever. 

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Posted (edited)

I continue to love these band-approved docs (or biopics like Bohemian Rhapsody) where they can play the actual music. I'm sure they sanitize some things, but ZZ feels like they've just always been the characters we see on screen.

I forgot Howard Bloom did some PR for them, as he also worked with Michael Jackson, Prince, Joan Jett and others in that era. In '94 he wrote The Lucifer Principle which to me remains probably the most influential book I've ever read. Basically a quasi-scientific explanation of the entire field of sociology.

I was the perfect age to discover ZZ on Eliminator and through the videos. It wasn't until I heard Springsteen cover "Nationwide" on the Born in the USA tour that I learned there was a pre-Eliminator ZZ Top and they were much more raw.

Edited by Bartles

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Watched the doc tonight.  I was entertained.  Also learned a lot about the band and it's history.  50 years performing together.  Incredible.

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The documentary was very good, although there was so much music they didn't cover.  I don't recall hearing Jesus Just Left Chicago, Waiting for the Bus, Cheap Sunglasses, I'm Bad, I'm Nationwide, Heard it on the X (although they talked about the X stations), Mexican Blackbird, Balinese, and more.  I remember not being able to go to the Worldwide Texas Tour show at the Summit--my parents thought I was too young--I might have been, and I'm still pissed about it.

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What's more ironic in terms of rock and roll facial hair:  Frank Beard being the only guy in ZZ Top to not maintain a significant beard, or Greg Norton being the only straight guy in Husker Du?

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25 minutes ago, HouTex said:

The documentary was very good, although there was so much music they didn't cover.  I don't recall hearing Jesus Just Left Chicago, Waiting for the Bus, Cheap Sunglasses, I'm Bad, I'm Nationwide, Heard it on the X (although they talked about the X stations), Mexican Blackbird, Balinese, and more.  I remember not being able to go to the Worldwide Texas Tour show at the Summit--my parents thought I was too young--I might have been, and I'm still pissed about it.

Yeah, I felt like they left so much out, but it's 1.5 hrs.  I'm not sure I would have wanted to see them short out anything that was included.

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I'm Bad, I'm Nationwide was featured somewhere in the second half of the show. But your point reminds me another thing that was striking - pretty sure there wasn't a single word spoken about the lyrics of any song...motivations, meanings, even fan reaction. It was all about the musical style. Which is fine, just unusual for one of these docs.

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11 minutes ago, Bartles said:

I'm Bad, I'm Nationwide was featured somewhere in the second half of the show. But your point reminds me another thing that was striking - pretty sure there wasn't a single word spoken about the lyrics of any song...motivations, meanings, even fan reaction. It was all about the musical style. Which is fine, just unusual for one of these docs.

I guess that's sort of an acknowledgement that their music isn't some kind of lyrical tour de force.  The lyrics are pretty quintessentially Texan, at least in the early going, then they moved from a Texas-centric bluesy bluster and bravado to a more generic type, I guess to fit the audience.  That would have been a worthy mention.

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I guess that's sort of an acknowledgement that their music isn't some kind of lyrical tour de force.  The lyrics are pretty quintessentially Texan, at least in the early going, then they moved from a Texas-centric bluesy bluster and bravado to a more generic type, I guess to fit the audience.  That would have been a worthy mention.

Exactly. Many of their early songs were about things unique to Texas. La Grange (the whorehouse), Heard it on the X (the X stations), Balinese (the Balinese Room in Galveston), Beer Drinkers and Hellraisers (duh), and Mexican Blackbird (Acuna) were songs about Texas or things close to it.

Gibbons lived in Tanglewood in the 60’s with his parents. Not exactly a hotbed of musical talent though his father was a musician. He went to Lee High School, back when it was good.

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Tres Hombres first album I ever bought with my own money. Wore the grooves off that thing. Preferred the pre MTV version alot more.

Tres hombres was the first 8 track I ever bought and remains one of my favorite albums of all time. The first time I heard brown sugar off their first album was when I knew I wanted to play guitar.

Great rockumentary and they remain a Texas icon second maybe only to Willie

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I was 12 when MTV debuted, so I watched a metric ton of it from it's very origin. But growing up in Houston,  thanks to KLOL, I knew all about ZZ Top's pre-Eliminator stuff. 

Being 14 when Eliminator came out, they knew exactly how to distract me from the fact that the music was so different 

 

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15 hours ago, davidg said:

 

Those tired old coots still make a sweet sweet sound.

Love the representaion on BG's rig.

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2 hours ago, Cajun said:

Love the representaion on BG's rig.

And one of them, think it was Dusty, had a big Longhorn logo on their barn.  

Aggy will be triggered when they see this. 

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Thought the best part was the studio guy who sent Bill Ham for BBQ..liked how he explained the sound he wanted. 

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Thought the best part was the studio guy who sent Bill Ham for BBQ..liked how he explained the sound he wanted. 

And interesting that it was in Tyler, Tx.

It was also interesting that Houston was sort of a hot bed for live music back in the day.

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Thought the best part was the studio guy who sent Bill Ham for BBQ..liked how he explained the sound he wanted. 

Robin Hood Brians is an East TX. icon. Hid produced lots of regional garage bands back in the day.

“Since he opened his studio in 1963, Robin has recorded hits for the Five Americans, The Uniques, David Houston, Mouse and the Traps and John Fred & His Playboy Band. He also recorded ZZ Top‘s first four albums and had a hand in Willis Allan Ramsey‘s classic album from 1973. Even James Brown and Ike & Tina Turner have stopped in to lay down some tracks.”




Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk

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I shook Billy’s hand in Austin about six years ago and he couldn’t have been cooler. I’ll never forget it.

Absolute legends.

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Quick count during the credits: they used 32 songs. Guess they couldn’t use them all.

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Posted (edited)

I always forget Jimmy Page played with Bad Company at ZZ Top's Memorial Stadium show.

20200306_183406.jpg

Edited by Deej

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10 hours ago, HouTex said:


And interesting that it was in Tyler, Tx.

It was also interesting that Houston was sort of a hot bed for live music back in the day.

Love Circus Feel Good Machine baby!

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On 3/3/2020 at 10:21 PM, atomheartbevo said:

Directed by Sam Dunn (shitload of music docs) and featuring the trio and their history.  You will be amazed that Frank Beard survived the 70s.    Features a performance from Gruene Hall shot just for the documentary.   Dropped a few days ago.

Did  not know Billy Gibbons opened for Jimi Hendrix.

 

I had heard that billy taught slide guitar to jimi 

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14 hours ago, Buzzrock said:

I shook Billy’s hand in Austin about six years ago and he couldn’t have been cooler. I’ll never forget it.

Absolute legends.

I did the same at Antone's maybe 15 years ago. BG was there to see Jimmie Vaughan. I was having my boots shined by the men's room & he was heading to the pisser. I just kinda gave him that "holy shit, that's you" look--never said a word--and he just stuck out his hand & said "gonna be a hot show tonight." I can't think of another big star who initiated contact with an average joe. Shit, I should've added this to the "people you've met at concerts thread."

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Loved the encore part for the 1 fan. He still shows up and says hi. 
 

Funny story. 

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Posted (edited)

Somewhat related, but not really, although Billy makes an appearance,  Axis has in its rotation the Bobby Keys documentary "Every Night is Saturday Night". It was really good. What a life that guy had. He is on so many records with so many artists. Not bad for a good old boy from West Texas.

Edited by Deej

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just watched.  really cool for them to do it at Gruene.  they did kind of "re-historize" Eliminator.  other than cheap sunglasses on Deguello, El Loco is really where they started to push the punk angle  a lot and change from their first 6 albums.    it didn't sell that well and I always wonder if they were wanting to rethink but then they hit it huge with Eliminator and MTV.

I'm sure that would have lengthened the doc and they wanted to get to Eliminator as quickly as possible.

Kind of interesting Dusty Hill lives in Nashville

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5 minutes ago, dcar00 said:

Kind of interesting Dusty Hill lives in Nashville

Texas and Tennessee kinda have a thing going all the way back to the Alamo. 

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I’d love another 90 minutes of Frank Beard just telling stories, the rant about shooting heroin because it was cost effective and he didn’t have Clapton money, and the MTV discovery phone chain story killed me

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Never really liked ZZ Top despite being the the right age group. Did love La Grange. But their big songs never did much for me when they came on the radio, maybe because we heard the same songs over and over. 

But I went and saw them last month at the SA Rodeo. Damn they were awesome. Even all the hits I never cared much for. My view on them did a 180.

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Posted (edited)

I've never been a fan of ZZ Top, but watched the documentary this weekend. As someone who isn't a fan, the number of truly great songs they have ends up kind of surprising when you watch a history of the band, only because I never think of them in the career sense-- I hear a ZZ Top song and think "they're really good" but there's no gestalt to it if you're not immersed in everything they've ever done. But when you stack all those songs up bang bang bang in a 90-minute documentary.... MAN, what a great band. Still not my cup of tea, but I definitely get why their fans are so totally devoted to them.

Having said that, the documentary itself wasn't exactly fascinating-- when you have one band together for 50 years with a minimum of drama, it doesn't make for a really compelling story, which is I guess why it was only 90 minutes long. There wasn't really anything to say after Eliminator. I liked it but I'm not going to run out and tell anyone "oh dude you GOTTA see that". 

Edited by SwanderedTalent

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Billy Gibbons and Jimmy Page are the two guys who made we want to pick up a guitar.

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30 minutes ago, Deej said:

Billy Gibbons and Jimmy Page are the two guys who made we want to pick up a guitar.

They were pretty much the two guys who made me want to put it down.

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13 hours ago, SwanderedTalent said:

I've never been a fan of ZZ Top, but watched the documentary this weekend. As someone who isn't a fan, the number of truly great songs they have ends up kind of surprising when you watch a history of the band, only because I never think of them in the career sense-- I hear a ZZ Top song and think "they're really good" but there's no gestalt to it if you're not immersed in everything they've ever done. But when you stack all those songs up bang bang bang in a 90-minute documentary.... MAN, what a great band. Still not my cup of tea, but I definitely get why their fans are so totally devoted to them.

Having said that, the documentary itself wasn't exactly fascinating-- when you have one band together for 50 years with a minimum of drama, it doesn't make for a really compelling story, which is I guess why it was only 90 minutes long. There wasn't really anything to say after Eliminator. I liked it but I'm not going to run out and tell anyone "oh dude you GOTTA see that". 

What the hell is wrong with you, boy? 🤬 

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8 hours ago, TwiceHorn said:

What the hell is wrong with you, boy? 🤬 

this is the ZZ Top thread, not the Unpopular Opinions thread, so I'm going to keep it to myself rather than explain

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In the spring of 1966 Billy Gibbons' high school band played in the lunch area of Landrum Junior High in Spring Branch.  I was already into good guitar slingers and Billy really stood out. When I told my older brother about it he dismissed them as a cover band.  I told him that yes, they played covers, but that the guitar player was something special.

in the fall of 1973 ZZ Top in the OKC symphony auditorium was the first concert I attended.  The acoustics were perfect and they were incredibly good.  Great songs played by great musicians who put out a great sound and knew how to work an audience.

i've seen them lots of times and they always put on a great show.  Billy is in the very highest echelon of guitar players, imo.  Frank and Dusty are a premier bass/drum section.

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