ZZ TOP “Eliminator” – Metal Odyssey’s Classic Rock Journey Back To 1983

ZZ TOP – It’s a humdinger of a thought, reflecting back to those blissful days of keg parties so long ago, in an open field, while Eliminator from ZZ TOP was blasting from someone’s boom box or car stereo. It was very common to hear Eliminator being cranked up along with Screaming For Vengeance from Judas Priest (released in 1982), Iron Maiden’s The Number Of The Beast and Piece Of Mind (released in 1982 and 1983 respectively) and Quiet Riot’s Metal Health. You have to remember, these were profoundly popular Metal albums of the day and ZZ TOP came knockin’ on the door to party… when all the world was abuzz about Heavy Metal. The really cool thing is, I and the majority of fellow Metalheads I knew then… let ZZ TOP in.

Metal Health was released on March 11, 1983 and Eliminator was released on March 23, 1983. Everyone knows the Metal historical importance of Metal Health being the first #1 Heavy Metal album on the Billboard Chart. (If you did not know, well, now you do. Plus QR rules too). Eliminator cracked that same Billboard Chart peaking at #9. As I reflect on it now, both the Metal Health and Eliminator albums should be hailed more frequently for their combined pop culture impact, it was like a one-two punch to the Hard Rockin’ forehead that felt so damn good back then. It certainly was a great moment in Rock Music history, when MTV really played music videos and while Heavy Metal along with Hard Rock was heard everywhere.

The coexistence of Eliminator alongside such Metal album classics back in 1983 proved that Heavy Metal, Hard Rock and Rock can and does have a common connection. A “weeding out” process was happening amongst us fans and bands back in those early 80’s… resulting in the eventual endless list of sub-genres that we all debate about in 2011. Eliminator seemed to break down any barriers of Rock ‘N’ Roll segregation back in 1983, the Country and Southern Rock fans just might like a band that a Metalhead digs!

I’ve never been one to embrace just Metal as my only music listening experience and ZZ TOP is one major reason why. (Metal is #1 in my Metal heart though). I remember my buddies and I rushing to Strawberries Records & Tapes to buy earlier albums from ZZ TOP after Eliminator was released. This album gave the ZZ TOP back catalog even more notoriety, (even though it was already revered) and helped spotlight the righteousness of Blues Rock and Southern Rock/Southern Hard Rock.

While I write about Eliminator, I’m tapping into my memories of yesteryear, regardless of how dazed they might be. I do remember vividly the social impact that Eliminator had on my group of buddies and the media impact goes without saying. The music videos that spawned from this album were beyond entertaining… they were Rock ‘N’ Roll coolness with an exclamation point. TV Dinners is not just a (gasp) fun song, the music video for this song is flat-out hilarious. The slow driven, thump and stump of TV Dinners “really can’t be beat”, in my Metal opinion.

Not to disrespectfully push the “hits” of Eliminator aside, still, there are other songs on this album that cut loose with their dirt kickin’ and down home Rockin’ vibes. I Got The Six, Dirty Dog, If I Could Only Flag Her Down, I Need You TonightThug and Bad Girl are just as potent as the world popular Legs, Sharp Dressed Man, Gimme All Your Lovin, Got Me Under Pressure and of course… TV Dinners.

Was Eliminator commercial for it’s time? Of course it was and for grand reason. Eliminator will forever have a commercial appeal due to it’s memorable lyrics and good-times feel. It’s that big Texas boogie beat that will always make ZZ TOP and their catalog of albums timeless. Blues and grooves. Add into the sound and style of ZZ TOP these three words as well: Hard, Heavy, Classic. What other Rock power-trio, if you will, manifested more bluesy slick and muscular grooves into their songs such as ZZ TOP? Eliminator only magnified this.

There was no rushing to the “Prog-Rock” door to impress the fans when it came to the Rock ‘N’ Roll of Eliminator, that’s never been what ZZ TOP was/is known for. Straightforward with their brand of bluesy Southern Rock and Hard Rock is what made ZZ TOP famous for in the first place. As time has gone by, Eliminator just “eliminated” any doubts about this band and album having a huge impact among a cross section of Rock genres. It always feels dandy when I can reflect on an album that has made my Rock lovin’ life so enjoyable. My Eliminator vinyl and CD can never grow moss or collect dust mites… there’s just too many BIG beats and FUN moments that it bulges with, just like a Classic Rock album from ZZ TOP should do.


BILLY GIBBONS – guitar & vocals

DUSTY HILL – bass & vocals


* Eliminator was released on March 23, 1983, on Warner Bros. Records.

* Eliminator was produced by Bill Ham.



The word “dandy” was used in the last paragraph.


38 Responses to “ZZ TOP “Eliminator” – Metal Odyssey’s Classic Rock Journey Back To 1983”

  1. Wow!!!! There were 3 Albums in the 1983/84 period that permanently transformed my music listening preference from rock to Heavy Metal! 2 of the 3 are in this post! The third was Billy Idol’s “Rebel Yell” I can’t explain it but these three albums somehow made me into a Metal Head! Awesome post

    • metalodyssey Says:

      Thanks Zipper! You bet about Billy Idol… “no one messes with Billy”… that’s my favorite line from the underrated film classic: “The Wedding Singer” starring Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore. That line is from the scene where Billy Idol is on the same plane as Adam Sandler, as Sandler goes searching to “save” Drew Barrymore from marrying a scumbag. The “scumbag” says” “get out of my way, Billy, before I hurt you”… then a big & cool biker dude tells the “scumbag”… “hey, no one messes with Billy”.

      If I’m a tad off with the lines here… oh Metal well. 🙂

  2. 80smetalman Says:

    Eliminator was a totally kick ass album and great to drink beer to. However, 1983 will always remain for me not only the year I got out of the marines but also the year Kiss came out of make up and told us to “Lick It Up!” Other great works at the time were The Scorpions “Blackout,” Twisted Sister- “You Can’t Stop Rock and Roll,” a personal favourite of mine, Molly Hatchet- “No Guts No Glory” and you could never leave out Dio’s “Holy Diver.” These and the ones you mention were many of the great albums that inpsired me to write Rock And Roll Children in the first place.
    p.s. Hope you had a great birthday

    • metalodyssey Says:

      I give a double \m/\m/ to those albums you named off!! Whoa… and Molly Hatchet was another Southern Rock/Hard Rock band that many of us Metalheads had tucked away underneath our denim or leather jackets!

      Yes, I had a cool birthday… I bought myself just “one” album off of Itunes too, go figure, just one! I’m gonna post about this “hidden gem” in the coming days too! Hint: It’s Southern Kick Ass To The Max! Whoa. 🙂

  3. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Classic Hit Bitz, Stone. Stone said: ZZ TOP "Eliminator" – Metal Odyssey's Classic Rock Journey Back To 1983: http://wp.me/pstgc-4C6 […]

  4. >those blissful days of keg parties

    1983 was my final year of junior high school. It would be a couple more years before I attended “keg parties”…but I was listening to the same music then that stands the test of time even today.

    >Eliminator from ZZ TOP…Screaming For Vengeance from Judas Priest …Iron Maiden’s The Number Of The Beast and Piece Of Mind…Quiet Riot’s Metal Health.

    All of those albums are currently on my “I-pod” (and of course, in my CD collection)!

    >Strawberries Records & Tapes

    When I was growing up in Florida, I often went to “Peach’s Records & Tapes” store.
    Similar name to the one you mentioned…only with a different “fruit” in the name. I wonder if they were owned by the same company…and if they had other stores named after different fruit.

    • metalodyssey Says:

      Wow… I never heard of “Peache’s Records & Tapes”. I bet there was some sort of affiliation between the two chains. I think I’ll LOL if someone tells me they had a “Cucumber’s Records & Tapes” in their old home state! 🙂

      • “Cucumber’s Records & Tapes”! Now that would be funny!

        BTW, did the “Strawberries” logo like anything like this:

        http://irritatedtulsan.files.wordpress.com/2010/04/peaches2.jpg ?

        • metalodyssey Says:

          Nope… the “Stawberries” logo looked nothing like that “Peaches” logo. Plus… I don’t know what is wrong with me here, yet those two peaches on that logo look like two cartoon fannies. “Shiny” cartoon fannies that is. 🙂

          Oy, I’ve been up too late I suppose.

        • Tokyo 5, I am from Florida , I bought many albums from Peaches Records and Tapes in Clearwater, in the front of the store they used to have handprints in cement.

          1983 was a big year for me as far as music bought so many albums as new releases including ZZTOP, KISS, Quiet Riot, Rainbow etc

          • >I am from Florida , I bought many albums from Peaches Records and Tapes in Clearwater

            Small world!
            That’s the exact same “Peaches R&T” that I used to go to!
            I grew up in Clearwater, Florida. I lived there until I moved to Tokyo in 1990.
            I graduated from PPHS.

            • It is a small world!! I used to shop their because they used to carry tons of imports and would spend hours browsing the store, I am sure we bumped into each other many times, since it sounds like you were a frequent shopper there.

            • >they used to carry tons of imports

              They also sold albums by “local” bands such as Savatage (even before they were well-known), Roxx Gang, Kitty Grinds, etc.

              Are you still living in Clwr, FL now?

              Remember 95YNF, 98 ROCK…and how about “The Vinyl Museum” used record store?

              Wow…懐かしい (this brings back memories!)

              Sorry Stone for “hi-jacking” this post’s comments. 😀

            • metalodyssey Says:

              An open forum of Rock ‘N’ Roll memories and blabbing is what Metal Odyssey is all about! Please… never apologize for hanging out and commenting here!

              Metalheads and Rockaholics UNITE! 🙂

            • Thanks.

              And I always appreciate your comments on my blog too.

            • I still live in Florida but I now live in Tampa, Vinyl Museum closed long ago which is too bad, used to love that store also.

              95ynf along with the DJ Russ Albums is also long gone, 98 Rock still exists but they play nothing but Clear Channel approved playlist.

              Vinyl Musueum was a great as store and I bought original vinyl copies of the first four Blue Cheer albums dirt cheap, man who knows how many times we saw each other album shopping back in the day!!!

            • > I now live in Tampa,

              Just over the bridge.

              >Vinyl Museum closed long ago which is too bad

              I bet Pinellas County looks totally different from how I remember it when I lived in America.

              >98 Rock still exists but they play nothing but Clear Channel approved playlist.

              I don’t know what “Clear Channel” is…but it doesn’t sound very “rock ‘n roll”.

              I used to have 98Rock bumper stickers that said “98 Rock & Ozzy Osbourne” and “98 Rock & KISS”, etc.
              And my car had a “95YNF” license plate upside down on the front.

              >Vinyl Musueum was a great as store and I bought original vinyl copies of the first four Blue Cheer albums

              I got Helix albums, KISS “Creatures Of The Night” (make-up version) and a bunch of others there.

              >who knows how many times we saw each other album shopping back in the day!!!

              And what a coincidence to “meet” all these years later through Stone’s excellent blog!

  5. Eliminator was my introduction to ZZtop although I prefer their early 70’s albums now.

    • metalodyssey Says:

      Yup… that’s an understandable statement. I seem to “criss-cross” back and forth with ZZ TOP’s era’s myself. You just can’t beat… singing along to the verse “She wore a pearl necklace” though! 🙂

  6. Cool. Isn’t it a blast to recall the past? All the mentioned Albums are classics. If I had to bet 1983 was probably the year that Metal broke all the barriers and started becoming mainstream! Probably the most relevant album of 1983 and maybe in Metal History in my opinion was “Pyromania”. Keg stand anyone!

    • metalodyssey Says:

      I’ll take Slayer “Reign In Blood” any day over “Pyromania” for relevancy in where Metal… “Real” Metal… is today. 😉

      “Master Of Puppets” comes in a close second though. Sorry, Metallica! 🙂

      However… when it comes to “mainstream” and accessibility to a “mass audience” of Heavy Metal and Arena Rock fans of yesteryear to now… sure, “Pyromania” is a key and relevant album for certain. Good choice… now…


  7. Would you believe that I picked this up last Thursday night? I stopped in a Half price books and found a copy of it.

    • metalodyssey Says:

      Man… talk about “synchronicity”! And I’m not talking about that album from The Police either! Whoa. Getting it for half price is the way to go too… it sells for $12 new online, at most sites.

  8. Not many bands re-invent themselves successfully – I think you can almost count them on one hand. You know the kind of thing – a real “Wow! I never saw THAT coming!” moment. But who would have thought the lil’ ol’ band from Texas would explode onto the worldwide scene with this hot piece of vinyl? Stunning stuff. It brings to mind the same impact of Aerosmith’s permanent vacation, and (in Europe, at least) obscure 60’s pop band Status Quo’s boogie masterpiece Piledriver. All share that same quality – glorious re-invention!

    • metalodyssey Says:

      You nailed it down with “Permanent Vacation”. I wish Steven Tyler was not part of that judging panel for American Idol though… what’s next, Lemmy Kilmister being a judge next season? God forbid! I’m guilty of not ever listening to that Status Quo album. Now, due to your acknowledging “Piledriver” in this fashion, I’m going to buy it! I don’t want to feel “left out in the Metal woods”. 🙂

      • 🙂 Quo are a very unfashionable band, and never made it in the U.S, but they had their moments, and the Piledriver album is perhaps them at their boogie-ing finest.

        • metalodyssey Says:

          I do recall Status Quo being covered in mags like Hit Parader and Circus back in the early-mid 80’s. I also remember them being featured on some compilation albums back then too. I can’t recite such compilation albums now though.

          I’m actually going to “dig through” my old cassette collection today, to see if there is any Status Quo laying around in some compilation. Those cassettes come in handy, especially when many titles are out of print or hard to find! 😉

  9. Coverdale Says:

    There was another music store called Coconuts

    • metalodyssey Says:

      Hey… I remember that store! Man, if my Metal memory serves me correct, I never shopped there because it was way too expensive. Remember “Music Towne” (was there an “e” in town?), that place was LOADED and their price$ were not that bad.

      Plus, for the longest time back then, I used to think that “Coconuts” was a clothing store. 🙂

  10. How could I have forgotten Pyromania bu Def Leppard. It was these acts in 82-82 which caused the dam to burst in 84 when heavy metal exploded ont MTV and even mainstream radio.

    • metalodyssey Says:

      What’s MTV? Oh… that network that USED to play cool music videos! Hey… do you remember “Night Flight” on the USA network? I remember seeing the Plasmatics for the first time on Night Flight. I remember I froze in my chair with my eyeballs hitting the floor!

      Wendy O. Williams R.I.P. 😦

      • 80smetalman Says:

        I never saw that particular programme on MTV but I did see the Plasmatics Prisoners of the Damned video played on MTV very late one night. It was better seeing WOW live though. She took the stage in full biker leather only to leave an hour later in just her bra and panties, yum!

  11. Pyromania (and of course Hysteria) got metal ( a form of it anyway) into homes where it had no place being – in it’s own way that makes Def leppard more subversive than punk bands ever were! Our first single was recorded just a few short months after their debut bludgeon riffola EP, at the same studio, with the same producer.

    • metalodyssey Says:

      That’s very cool, Kev, that there is a some trace of a Def Leppard “connection” there with your career. 🙂 It’s strange… it doesn’t seem that long ago when “Pyromania” was released. I remember buying the last copy of “Pyromania” at my local department store that first week of release… I was bummed out because the album jacket had a crease in the top right corner! Just last year, I found a “crisp” (supposedly used) copy of it for 50 cents! Metal vindication was mine and it plays just fine.

  12. This record store sounds cool! I used to love Amoeba records in San Francisco, and would go in when we were on tour – always came out with an armful of albums!

  13. For years, it was always fashionable to discredit Eliminator and Afterburner for being commercial garbage, but they were both really fun albums that didn’t take themselves too seriously. And I wouldn’t be surprised if someday they were viewed as some sort of Brian Eno-style experimental masterpiece for Mr. Gibbons (who, for the record, can still play Clapton right off the stage).

    I’m pretty sure that I didn’t fully grasp the lyrics to “Under Pressure” when I bought that tape back in seventh grade or whenever it was.

    To this day, they are still a better live band than 99 percent of the dinosaur rock acts.

    • metalodyssey Says:

      I’m glad I did get to see ZZ Top live during my life, even if it was only once. 😦

      George Thorogood & The Destroyers opened that night for ZZ Top at the Hartford Civic Center. I believe it was their “Haircut” album that they were supporting, while ZZ Top was out supporting “Antenna”. Man, you must know then that ZZ Top were gooooooood live! George and his band kicked some major butt too, I was actually bummed to see their set end! However, knowing ZZ Top was coming out made all the difference in the world.

      Your so right about “fun”… too often that word misrepresents a band and/or album. I always refer to it with a (gulp) before it in my album reviews! When a core band of mine makes a (gulp) “fun” album, I usually dig it. Besides, whoever said Rock ‘N’ Roll wasn’t supposed to be fun?

      Yeah… Billy Gibbons is a “real-deal” on the guitar. I write that blushing for that is still an understatement of how great he really is. 😉

      • 80smetalman Says:

        ZZTop were brilliant live, I saw them 3 times. The best of those was May 86 when they were supported by Honey Suite. What ever happened to Honeymoon Suite anyway?

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