Z.Z. Top – Chrome, Smoke, and B. B. Q.

Chrome, Smoke, and B. B. Q.
Chrome, Smoke, and B. B. Q.

Well, Z.Z. Top’s music has been released in a lot of forms on CD. I confess, I didn’t scarf up the other releases, even though I grew up on this stuff and love it dearly. It always seemed the packaging just wasn’t right.

Never fear, the fine folks at Warner have put together a terrific four-CD set that really is as fine an overview as you’ll find. The music speaks for itself. You get it all here, from several Moving Sidewalks cuts through all the Z.Z. Top catalog, and it wraps up with some tracks that are labeled as “medium rare.” Those tracks feature “Francene” in Spanish, a live version of “Cheap Sunglasses,” and several remixes.

The sound of the set is fine, too. The only thing I had on disc was Tres Hombres and the old Best of, and this stuff sounds much clearer. Billy Gibbons’ guitar work sparkles as it pops out of your speaker. And you know what? As you listen to various phases of the band, you realize what a great player Gibbons is. You want a shuffle, dial one up. You want loud, raucous rock and roll, dial one up. You want a gorgeous instrumental, dial one up. You want country-flavored rock, dial one up. You get the idea. The band is much more versatile than a lot of folks would give it credit for.

One other thing you notice as you listen to this much Z.Z. Top is the sexual references. Has any one band ever used this many double entendres? Definitely not.

The packaging is very nice. An 80-page booklet lets the boys talk about each and every song. And, friends weigh in; you hear from the likes of David Lynch, Farrah Fawcett, Ann Richards, Kid Rock, Billy Bob Thornton, and Dwight Yoakam.

To top it off, there’s a really fun, old-fashioned flip book. Flip the pages and the boys spin their guitars.

I’d have no problem recommending this to someone who’s Z. Z. collection is a little spotty. Everything is here. And the beauty of it is they’re still going strong. Who knows, maybe another box set in the year 2030?

This article originally appeared in VG‘s Feb ’04 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.

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