Eliminator - Collector's Edition (Warner)
Previous to ZZ Top's smash breakthrough in 1983, the guys had already established a track record of (arguably) four albums in a row with vastly varying recordings and songwriting styles. So it shouldn't have come as a surprise that they would create this slick, stiff, minimalist record, oddly pure of song structure. It could be nothing but a hit, and it was, given the unified image of car, logo, gals, subtle choreography, beards and them get-ups, that ran through three of four of the album's high rotation MTV videos. Four songs became hits (but our obstinate bar band in 1984, Torque, would only play the two heaviest songs, 'I Got The Six' and 'Bad Girl'), and much of the rest fit like a glove on this album of guitary, resolutely 4/4 danciness - only 'I Need You Tonight' didn't rock (and truth told, it was pretty dull). Eliminator was the first of three all too similar albums, but outside of that, it was also the best of them. Plus people forget how heavy it was, up next to much of the rest of the catalogue (Rhythmeen is the heaviest), Billy pretty much fired up with distortion pedal the whole time, and, actually, especially on the hits, 'Legs' least so. Anyway, don't hate it because you're sick of it, or because it's so '80s and commercial, or because it celebrates the synthetic and aseptic, 'cos fact is, it's pretty heavy, and cannily varied like the smash that it was. This reissue is swell too, offering a four-panel gate, five additional CD live tracks, four DVD live tracks, the four videos, and two versions of 'Legs'. The live stuff is all a bit rickety, bootleggy and worn (Live From Texas kills this easily), but man, have you ever seen a cooler lookin' band on stage?
HOUSE OF LORDS
Come To My Kingdom (Blistering)
Not sure I'd chalk it up to Greg Giuffria not being part of the mix this time, but James Christian and crew is now caressing the softer, more melodic side of the band, Come To My Kingdom rocking atmospheric and keyboardy with a further emphasis on vocals. Think Lillian Axe or White Lion at their lightest (yet still uptempo), or oddly, Royal Hunt in airy architecture, mebbee a bit of Dokken, although Don could never be this yacht rock (search that in youtube - something like 11 episodes of brilliance await you). But the songs are strong, the melodies impassioned and a few percentage points of darkness are in there, or at least a stirring and yearning which strikes at the heart of why I thought Mike Tramp's Capricorn solo album was such a hard rocking tear-jerker. Still, this is just a little too uniformly sweet and choral - it's like the polite sister-in-law to World Upside Down's uncle spiking the drink with a wink that we'll all get through the family function with the help of my good friend Jim Beam.
Hard Reviews Page 5