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What’s not to like about ZZ Top? With Billy Gibbons and Dusty Hill’s trademark beards and the ironically named beardless drummer, Frank Beard, their entertaining Texan blues swayed southern hard rocking tunes have been a mainstay of the rock scene for nearly five decades now. So they’re a worthy inclusion for the first batch of deluxe vinyl reissues under the earMUSIC Classics banner; a new range that will extend to a whopping 200 titles in the coming months/years.

Described in press blurb as “lavishly presented”, I can’t argue with that. Two discs of 100% virgin, 180 gram, audiophile grade, black vinyl sit within a quality gatefold sleeve, as does an accompanying CD, housed in its own cardboard wallet (with the same cover picture as the gatefold sleeve). The tracklist is the same across both the vinyl and CD but, for people buying this, it’ll evidently be for the analogue delights of former, with the latter being a nice bonus. And, listening to both, I can happily declare that while the CD provides a “brighter” aural experience, it’s the vinyl that delivers precisely what people will be after here. The warmly resonant qualities of these beautifully weighty, shiny discs are apt for ZZ Top’s warmly resonant music. And, dare I say, the vinyl provides a more authentic replication of the live sound than that of the CD. It sounds more organic, more alive… a more rewarding experience overall. It states “Mastered for Vinyl” on the back cover, so there’s evidently been some TLC applied here that’s appropriate for the format.

Of the music itself… well, it’s all top drawer ZZ Top, with classics abound, and all delivered with their perennially fun vibes. ‘Live From Texas’ was originally released in 2008 on DVD, BD, CD and vinyl, with the DVD/BD containing two tracks that were excluded from the CD/vinyl editions. I’m sure fans of the band will be disappointed to learn that those elusive two songs haven’t made it back onto this earMUSIC Classics reissue, albeit that might be more to do with not wanting to compromise the quality of what is present by extending the existing 76 minutes of music to squeeze everything on. Besides, it’s a fun ride from start to finish, for the sixteen tracks that are included. From the mid tempo grooves of ‘Cheap Sunglasses’ and ‘Just Got Paid’; the up tempo energy of ‘Pearl Necklace’ and ‘Legs’; the down tempo blues-heavy numbers like ‘Jesus Just Left Chicago’, ‘Rough Boy’ and ‘Blue Jean Blues’; right through to the bouncy, mid to up tempo vibes of closer ‘Tush’. This is ZZ Top doing what they do best.

Of the package, the gatefold sleeve is a thing of beauty - vibrantly colourful, and with liner notes on one entire inner side by Tom Vickers, a music consultant and friend of the band. It’s also worth mentioning for the avid collectors out there that 'Live from Texas' is an individually numbered limited edition (as will be many of the other reissues within the earMUSIC Classics range). There are only 3,000 of this one, so all you ZZ Top aficionados out there will want to snap this up right away!
Vinyl Double Album + CD
Review by Mark Holmes
25th October 2019
DISC ONE; SIDE ONE: 1) Got Me Under Pressure; 2) Waitin' for the Bus; 3) Jesus Just Left Chicago; 4) I'm Bad, I'm Nationwide
DISC ONE, SIDE TWO: 1) Cheap Sunglasses; 2) Pearl Necklace; 3) Just Got Paid
DISC TWO, SIDE ONE: 1) Rough Boy; 2) Blues Intro; 3) Blue Jean Blues; 4) Gimme All Your Lovin'; 5) Sharp Dressed Man
DISC TWO, SIDE TWO: 1) Legs; 2) Tube Snake Boogie; 3) La Grange; 4) Tush
"...the vinyl provides a more authentic replication of the live sound than that of the CD. It sounds more organic, more alive… a more rewarding experience overall."