During the early years Billy Gibbons mostly used his Gibson '59 sunburst Les Paul, aka "Pearly Gates," through some Marshall amps onstage and his nasty riffs felt like they could cut you in half compared to the more polished sound he produces today. During the last decade Gibbons has stuck mostly to his Gretsch "Billy-Bo" Jupiter Thunderbird guitar, which was based on the original Jupiter Thunderbird given to him by Bo Diddley. He and Dusty Hill's vocals were also noticeably more powerful on these earlier performances, which is to be expected I suppose, since they are both 60 now.
The "Almost Now...2008" disc should have simply been relegated to bonus material status on the main DVD. Sure, you get eleven live performances taken from various stops on the band's 2008 tour, but they are all incessantly interrupted by interview and backstage footage, which makes the damn thing nearly unwatchable. If you go into it with the mindset that you will be watching a tour documentary, instead of a concert, then it might be more tolerable. You're better off just getting the Live From Texas DVD if you are interested in watching a recent ZZ Top concert though.
As would be expected, the production quality is quite different between the two discs. The 1980 concert looks every bit its 30 years age, but the DTS and Dolby Digital 5.1 audio tracks sound stupendous despite of it. The 4:3 video transfer is very grainy and frequently riddled with horizontal banding, but the camera work captured this remarkable performance very well. The 16:9 widescreen transfer on the second disc was only shot on standard video (not HD), and was not anamorphically enhanced, but the incredibly sharp and vivid picture quality left little to complain about. The sounds mixes for this disk were all stellar as well.
Much like one of my other favorite rock & roll trios, Rush, ZZ Top are one of the few bands that have managed to keep their original lineup together for nearly 40 years and still remain as vibrant and popular as they ever where (and yes, I know that Neil Peart did not join Rush until their second album). Double Down Live is a must have for any serious ZZ Top fan.