To have existed as a unit for 43 years means many changes, twists and turns have taken place. Even as a seasoned fan I often think of the group as 1983 and after. To put it starkly when I look at photos of the group from the 1970's, in the Nudie Suits, the thin waist lines, no sunglasses, stretched poses and rose tinted glasses, its almost like a different group. And it kind of is.
ZZ in the 70's were young, hungry, focused, energetic and driven - all the time. After 1983, they were some of these things here and there, but never all of those things all of the time. It is truly a shame that more recordings from the 70's don't exist, yet we have literally 75 tapes from the Afterburner tour, which sounded the same year after year.
I would like for Billy, and Dusty and Frank, to be asked when was it the best time to be a member of ZZ Top. I'm willing to wager the high fame was good and all in its place, but the subsequent inevitable pressure and fall, and the fade into middle age and general obscurity, combined with ghosts of MTV and 120 bpm that are chained around your neck, tarnishes a good amount of your past.
I mean, ZZ was HUGE for a number of years, having one of the first albums to be noted as reaching platinum sales status - and then it all goes away. But the band is still here, 30 years later! Its crazy.
In the early days the band operated as a unit. It was Top + Ham, Pearly, a van, and word of mouth. Damn I bet it was fun. Look at the pictures, look how much fun their having. I can't see the fun as much with those sunglasses on. I'm not looking at you when there are lasers in my eyes. And then when the lasers go away and you stop doing Paula Abdul dance moves long enough for me to see, your older, slower, unfocused, lost, tepid, and confused. Gone are the roadtrips, gone is the unit, gone is the excitment, gone is the van.
ZZ Top were a rock n' roll band in the 1970's. When they were young.