SONIC WAVES….ZZ Top / Afterburner

2 years after the mega selling Eliminator comes Afterburner in Oct of 1985 and to me it’s sides 3 and 4 to Eliminator. ZZ boys decide if it ain’t broke we ain’t fixing! But along with the no fixin claus someone in the Top Organization decides to jack up the synth,throw down some drum machines and  embrace the musical sounds of the mid 80s hard rock style. Plus the cover was cool as they took the ZZ car and torqued up into a rocket ship looking car! Kudos to ZZ there going into frontiers unknown!

ZZ  stays the course and me for one I’m ok with it kinda as Eliminator was solid top to bottom Afterburner lags a little behind but it’s not  close to 3/4’s Filler material here at Arena Rock!

Billy/Frank and Dusty fire up the Afterburners(Ha) and take off and hey where did that dang drum machine go…….

SLEEPING BAG- cue Frank Beard and the drum machine and some robotic musical patterns and whoosh thank God here comes Billy with his guitar and uhhey this has too be the coolest song ever written about a Sleeping Bag. This is total 80s sound in production trickery. All the bells and whistles are here folks including ,Jesus ? Is Frank Beard even playing drums ? Beats me but man 80s ZZ Top is a different beast than 1970s ZZ Top as Tbone had bought Fandango and man it’s one side live one side studio and them dudes on Fandango don’t sound anything like the slick polished Afterburner dudes !

STAGES- ahh this sounds familiar. This song rocks straight ahead with Gibbon’s guitar driving the tune cool catchy song and was one of the singles that did well for them.

WOKE UP WITH WOOD- what a great title! This is top heavy with the synthy rhythms and beats and shit but man it’s once again like Quirkey Top. I love this tune and still do! The  solo, the outro solo is real good as well! Hey ladies be careful lying next to a piece of wood and no I’m not warning you!! Billy Gibbons/ Frank Beard and Dusty Hill are warning Ya!

ROUGH BOY- ah yes track 4 and it time to slow the brakes down. Just like Eliminator with that track number 4 ( I Need You Tonight) ZZ plays some power spacey blues that I guess it’s as close to a ZZ ballad as any. Well played and Billy, well played guitar as always! Love his sound!

CAN’T STOP ROCKING- Dusty takes over and this is 4/4 ZZ saying hey we can chillax with the Rough Boy but we ain’t staying quiet for too long….

PLANET OF WOMEN- oh yeah…one of my all time fav ZZ tunes! This song rips right out of the gate and Billy tells us he’s a nervous wreck that the girls are everywhere so check it out! Hahahaha….love it man. Super catchy chorus and wickedly good Gibbon’s solo!

I GOT THE MESSAGE- drums drums and more electronic drums Done ZZ Style….this song is pretty much saved by Billy Gibbon’s guitaring which punches in and punches out on this track! It’s pretty amazing listening back to this album after a lot of years that ZZ was firmly entrenched into 1985 musically. I mean man other bands at the time like Duran Duran were using the electronics and basically they made me wanna puke where as When ZZ dialed up 1-800-ZZ-Drums they made it at least sound cool!

VELCRO FLY-ha….big time lets makie bakie a single and shove it through some electronic gadgets and see what it pukes out! Velcro Fly is upon us! This is one that I did not play much…..I think they have a tuity fruity video of this as well…..c’mon Billy dump some cool ripping guitar will Ya….speaking of the vid …Jesus was that Dusty playing the keyboard in the vid? Single single singles……chasing the hits but can Ya blame em? They had tons o hits on Eliminator so how does that not play in your noggin when your,lazing around eating tacos,drinking tons of Corona and trying to cut 10 tracks for Afterburner?

DIPPING LOW (IN THE LAP OF LUXURY)- pretty catchy harmony vocals in this tune and its a better track than Velcro Fly! Haha…Billy slaps,down some cool guitar and ZZ sees the finish line!

DELIRIOUS- Dusty rocks up with his second lead vocal….this song is pretty good for a ending tracks but ZZ falls thru the trap door with the robotic sounding vocal of Delirious! the vocal of the chorus reminds me of Styxs Mr Roboto…Hahahaha….but at least ZZ goes to the ends with a rocker of a track !

IN CONCLUSION- ZZ doesn’t want the payday to end and neither do we,so millions buy Afterburner including of course myself and Tbone. Afterburner for me is a good record but over time after the 6th song (Planet Of Women )the album kinda lags a little and its one of those albums that I did not find one of those end of album Gems(as I call em) like I did on the previous Top album with If I Could Only Flag Her Down. So for me ZZ still pass I mean, here I am at the time In  1985,17 years old and these Ol Fuzzy Beards write a tune called Woke Up With Wood……hahaha…..classic ….the one big gripe over time is the drums on this album. Too many studioery gadgets and bells and whistles ringing off but man you still got Gibbon’s and his guitar. Plus the dude sings a cool chill vocal…..Dusty and Frank, my question is are you two hombres even on this record?

23 thoughts on “SONIC WAVES….ZZ Top / Afterburner”

  1. I have this album now, in my 10 CD ZZ Top box set…which so far I have only finished 3 discs of! (I wanted to absorb then, not listen to them in a big blaze of forgetfulness, so I am doing it in phases.)

    I have the same question about the hombres on the record though. I’ve heard enough of the singles like Velcro Fly etc to know that the drums do not sound real at all, and since they were run through a sequencer to make everything digital perfect anyway, did Frank even need to be there?

    Well Deke I dunno what to do now. This isn’t the next CD in my box set to rip open but I kinda wanna jump ahead.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sorry man…hahaha….didn’t want to be the one responsible for messing up your listening order! I actually wrote this one a while back when I did the Eliminator album. I started Recycler (was gonna do a ZZ week)but I aborted it as I wasn’t feeling it sonically….will get back to it at some point though…..
      Thanks for dropping by on the holiday!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I have this one on CD and LP! I will admit that I don’t listen to it nearly as often as Elminator, but that’s just ‘cos I have a soft spot of that one. If this had come out when I was buying my first tape, I’d love this one! 😉

    The synthesized/drum machine thing got to be a bit much. But that was the 80s all over.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Yup. I was 10 years old when I bought Eliminator for myself (still have that tape in my collection, it has a white shell). It was just a timing thing. That was the current release (packed with songs I knew from the radio already) so it was a cinch I’d buy that one!


  3. Spot on, Deke. I don’t listen to this one much at all … some good sounds (those being from Billy’s guitar), but it’s a bit sluggish and really falls short of pretty much every other Top album.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I realize I’m commenting a bit behind the time curve, but I wanted to comment about drum machines. Yes, ZZ Top started with drum machines on ELIMINATOR (I know, I was there), it worked, they did it more after that (because it worked). So, I hate to say, lots and lots of famous acts and albums have used drum machines. It kind of started with Steely Dan, they had a garage built mini mainframe geek built drum machine and it became their drum sound on albums. Paul McCartney, Billy Idol, Fleetwood Mac, Prince, Stevie Wonder, and on and on and on. Nowadays the drum machine function is just built into the studio console functions. Drum machines are clean sounding, perfect beat, and save time and money. I’m not saying that makes things better for the fans. Many folks hate the idea of it. But, studio albums are about presenting a “better than reality” concept of a band sound. There’s the studio image of a band, then there’s the stage image of a band (often cheated too). Think of it this way: when you watch a movie and your favorite actor gets punched in the face and falls off a cliff, that was fake, but you still like the actor. Hey guys, just throwing out a info. Take Care.

    Liked by 1 person

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