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Chrome, Smoke & BBQ: The ZZ Top Box

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Barnes & Noble - David Sprague
The self-proclaimed "lil ol' band from Texas" require a big ol' box to accommodate the Lone Star–sized sprawl of their three decades in the spotlight. Fans, of course, wouldn't want anything less from ZZ Top, who deliver all the expected smashes on this four-CD set -- kicked up a notch by just the right peppering of oddities and left-field choices. The trio's best-known material is all here, restored to its original boogie-down glory shorn, that is, of the ill-advised drum "improvements" that marked previous reissues. Disc 1 of the chronologically arranged set kicks off with a passel of tracks from the Moving Sidewalks -- Billy Gibbons's pre-Top psych-punk outfit -- ...
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Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - David Sprague
The self-proclaimed "lil ol' band from Texas" require a big ol' box to accommodate the Lone Star–sized sprawl of their three decades in the spotlight. Fans, of course, wouldn't want anything less from ZZ Top, who deliver all the expected smashes on this four-CD set -- kicked up a notch by just the right peppering of oddities and left-field choices. The trio's best-known material is all here, restored to its original boogie-down glory shorn, that is, of the ill-advised drum "improvements" that marked previous reissues. Disc 1 of the chronologically arranged set kicks off with a passel of tracks from the Moving Sidewalks -- Billy Gibbons's pre-Top psych-punk outfit -- that show the beginnings of the Texas trio's tequila-soaked party spirit. That's confirmed in the ultra-early Top recordings "Miller's Farm" and "Salt Lick," both concise, lusty swatches of greasy guitar choogle. As the set chronicles the band's evolution from ambassadors of pure Texas boogie characterized by "La Grange" and "Tush" to the tongue-in-cheek techno-cowboys they'd come to portray on, say, "Legs," it also takes plenty of side trips sure to interest fans. Admittedly, some -- like a dance remix of "Viva Las Vegas" and a Spanish-language "Francene" -- are probably included for mere novelty. Others, however -- a cover of the 13th Floor Elevators' "Reverberation Doubt" and a strutting live version of "Cheap Sunglasses" -- give further insight into what's kept the Top vital for nigh onto 35 years. The set is outfitted with a number of extras, including a well-annotated liner note booklet and -- best of all -- a nifty flipbook that, when used properly, provides a re-creation of the band's trademark stage choreography. [The limited-edition version is housed in a compact box styled like a Texas back-roads barbeque shack.]
All Music Guide - Stephen Thomas Erlewine
Prior to 2003's Chrome, Smoke & BBQ, ZZ Top's catalog was crying out for a comprehensive retrospective. Not that the band hadn't been anthologized before: they had two hits collections, with notably different track listings, and in 1987's Six Pack, they even had a makeshift box set, but all three of these were hampered by limited focus and haphazard execution. Chrome, Smoke & BBQ addresses both of these concerns by focusing on the trio's 20 years at Warner -- from 1970's ZZ Top's First Album to 1990's Recycler -- picking the best 70 or so songs from these ten albums and spreading them over the course of a lavish four-disc, 80-track box set. This is the first logical approach to ZZ Top's career yet, and while it isn't a perfect collection, it comes tantalizingly close to that ideal. The primary problem is that by the time the fourth disc rolls around, the collection has lost considerable momentum -- and that's without even touching any material from the forgettable albums the band waxed for RCA in the '90s. With its robotic beats and flattened production, Recycler pointed the way toward those RCA records, yet it did have some excellent songs -- "Give It Up," "My Head's in Mississippi," and "Doubleback" -- that harked back to the group's strengths, something that would have been more apparent if these songs appeared at the end of disc three, after the Afterburner material. Instead, they're stranded on the fourth disc, along with four other songs from Recycler, for a grand total of seven of ten songs from that album, to which are added six "Medium Rare" tracks -- the obligatory obscurities that are included on each box set, this time being a pretty cool Spanish version of "Francene," an OK live take on "Cheap Sunglasses" from a 1980 promo single, and four 12" remixes, none of which are very good. This disc is required listening only for diehards. Fortunately, the other three discs are damn near perfect, containing six to seven songs from each of their albums except their debut nearly all of those records had a mere ten tracks, making this a very generous sampling along with three tracks from guitarist/vocalist Billy Gibbons' first band, the Moving Sidewalks, and a single, "Miller's Farm"/"Salt Lick," from the "embryonic" ZZ Top, before bassist Dusty Hill or drummer Frank Beard joined forces with Gibbons. All the hits and classic rock radio staples are here, of course, along with a wealth of album tracks that illustrate that even if the band didn't have much range -- whether the production was raw and greasy as it was on "La Grange" or clean and sleek, like the Police playing the Rolling Stones, as on "Pearl Necklace," they rarely strayed from either fast blues boogie or slow blues -- they did have strong songwriting chops, witnessed by such buried treasures as the raucous "Brown Sugar" and "Just Got Paid," the monster groove of "I'm Bad, I'm Nationwide," the sweet "Leila," the crawling "Blue Jean Blues," and the unspeakable sleaze of the oozing "Mexican Blackbird" and smirking "I Got the Six." All this and more including a radio commercial for Deguello spread out over three addictive discs that truly do condense ZZ Top's records to their very best. It would be nice to have the good Recycler songs sandwiched onto the third disc and top the set off at three discs -- it would have been a nice symmetry, with one disc for each band member -- but it's easy enough to ignore the last disc and revel in how good the rest of the set is. Basically, Chrome, Smoke & BBQ is all the ZZ Top you'd ever need. [Chrome, Smoke & BBQ was released in two editions, both containing a terrific book, filled with great photos -- including early shots of Gibbons in the Moving Sidewalks, without the beard -- testimonials by the likes of Billy Bob Thornton, Dwight Yoakam, Ann Richards, and of all people, David Lynch who immortally proclaims "ZZ Top = the fast track to cool", an excellent history by Tom Vickers, and track-by-track notes by Gibbons, Hill, and Beard, as told to Bob Merlis. The limited edition is quite fancy in its own right, encased in a mock roadhouse shack and containing a booklet shaped as a menu, a sheet of ZZ Top paper dolls no perforations, however; this is for display purposes only, and a flipbook that finds the trio doing their signature twirling guitars and hand gestures. It's a little elaborate, but it's fun, particularly because the four discs are in jewel cases and can be transported while this sits on the set, next to the other impractical, oversized box sets, such as that Charley Patton box designed as a fake album of 78s, in your collection.]
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 10/14/2003
  • Label: Rhino
  • UPC: 081227817626
  • Catalog Number: 78176

Tracks

Disc 1
  1. 1 You Make Me Shake (3:02)
  2. 2 Joe Blues (7:36)
  3. 3 Crimson Witch (3:03)
  4. 4 Miller's Farm (2:36)
  5. 5 Salt Lick (2:46)
  6. 6 Brown Sugar (5:22)
  7. 7 Goin' Down to Mexico (3:22)
  8. 8 Just Got Back from Baby's (4:10)
  9. 9 Francine (3:34)
  10. 10 Just Got Paid (4:28)
  11. 11 Ko Ko Blue (4:32)
  12. 12 Chevrolet (3:21)
  13. 13 Bar-B-Q (3:28)
  14. 14 Sure Got Cold After the Rain Fell (7:20)
  15. 15 Whiskey'n Mama (3:22)
  16. 16 La Grange (3:53)
  17. 17 Waitin' for the Bus (2:53)
  18. 18 Jesus Just Left Chicago (3:30)
  19. 19 Beer Drinkers & Hell Raisers (3:25)
  20. 20 Master of Sparks (3:30)
Disc 2
  1. 1 Precious and Grace (3:11)
  2. 2 Shiek (4:06)
  3. 3 Thunderbird (3:04)
  4. 4 Jailhouse Rock (1:55)
  5. 5 Nasty Dogs and Funky Kings (2:45)
  6. 6 Heard It on the X (2:26)
  7. 7 Blue Jean Blues (4:45)
  8. 8 Mexican Blackbird (3:06)
  9. 9 Tush (2:18)
  10. 10 It's Only Love (4:23)
  11. 11 Arrested for Driving While Blind (3:06)
  12. 12 El Diablo (4:22)
  13. 13 Enjoy and Get It On (3:25)
  14. 14 She's a Heartbreaker (3:03)
  15. 15 Asleep in the Desert (3:29)
  16. 16 I Thank You (3:26)
  17. 17 Cheap Sunglasses (4:48)
  18. 18 I'm Bad, I'm Nationwide (4:49)
  19. 19 A Fool for Your Stockings (4:15)
  20. 20 Degüello Album Radio Spot (1:02)
  21. 21 Manic Mechanic (2:38)
  22. 22 She Loves My Automobile (2:24)
  23. 23 Leila (3:16)
  24. 24 Tube Snake Boogie (3:02)
Disc 3
  1. 1 I Wanna Drive You Home (4:48)
  2. 2 It's So Hard (5:11)
  3. 3 Pearl Necklace (4:06)
  4. 4 Heaven, Hell or Houston (2:33)
  5. 5 Gimme All Your Lovin (4:00)
  6. 6 Got Me Under Pressure (4:01)
  7. 7 TV Dinners (3:51)
  8. 8 Sharp Dressed Man (4:14)
  9. 9 Legs (3:36)
  10. 10 I Got the Six (2:53)
  11. 11 Dirty Dog (4:03)
  12. 12 If I Could Only Flag Her Down (3:42)
  13. 13 Sleeping Bag (4:04)
  14. 14 Stages (3:34)
  15. 15 Woke Up With Wood (3:47)
  16. 16 Rough Boy (4:52)
  17. 17 Can't Stop Rockin' (3:05)
  18. 18 Planet of Women (4:05)
  19. 19 Velcro Fly (3:31)
  20. 20 Delirious (3:40)
Disc 4
  1. 1 Concrete and Steel (3:50)
  2. 2 Lovething (3:26)
  3. 3 Penthouse Eyes (3:50)
  4. 4 My Head's in Mississippi (4:20)
  5. 5 Give It Up (3:32)
  6. 6 Doubleback (3:58)
  7. 7 2000 Blues (4:42)
  8. 8 Reverberation (Doubt) (3:03)
  9. 9 Viva Las Vegas (4:46)
  10. 10 Gun Love (3:42)
  11. 11 Francine (2:56)
  12. 12 Cheap Sunglasses (5:14)
  13. 13 Legs (7:57)
  14. 14 Viva Las Vegas (8:39)
  15. 15 Give It Up (6:25)
  16. 16 Velcro Fly (6:38)
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Album Credits

Performance Credits
ZZ Top Primary Artist
Frank Beard Percussion, Drums, Alto Saxophone, Vocals, Interviewee, Group Member
Billy Gibbons Fiddle, Guitar, Harmonica, Keyboards, Baritone Saxophone, Vocals, Interviewee, Group Member
Dusty Hill Bass, Keyboards, Tenor Saxophone, Vocals, Interviewee, Group Member
Dan Mitchell Drums
Tom Moore Organ
Don Summers Bass
Lanier Greg Bass
Technical Credits
Dwight Yoakam Quotes Researched & Compiled
Roky Erickson Composer
Mort Shuman Composer
Kid Rock Quotes Researched & Compiled
Jerry Leiber Composer
Terry Manning Engineer
The Moving Sidewalks Contributor
Steve Ames Producer
James Austin Liner Notes
Frank Beard Composer
Bert Frilot Engineer
Billy Gibbons Composer
Isaac Hayes Composer
Bill Ham Composer, Producer, Executive Producer
Joe Hardy Engineer
Jimi Hendrix Contributor
Dusty Hill Composer
Doyle E. Jones Engineer
Bob Ludwig Engineer
Tom Moore Composer
Larry Nix Engineer
Doc Pomus Composer
David Porter Composer
Mike Stoller Composer
Don Summers Composer
Stacy Sutherland Composer
Tommy Hall Composer
Robin Brian Engineer
Tom Vickers Liner Notes
Marty Cordray Composer
David Lynch Quotes Researched & Compiled
Bob Merlis Interviewer
Billy Bob Thornton Quotes Researched & Compiled
Farah Fawcett Quotes Researched & Compiled
Terry Kane Engineer
Ann Richards Quotes Researched & Compiled
Jim Reeves Engineer
William Hill Composer
Jerome Doc Pomus Composer
Joe M. Hill Composer
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