Just exactly why this was released I'm not sure. Especially, seeing as to how it follows so close on the heels of the 2003 four disc retrospective: "Chrome,Smoke & BBQ".
Not a bad overview for neophyte fans or those with only a passing interest in the band. Long time devotees of Z.Z. Top and its adrenaline-fueled brand of bluesy Texas stomp can expect no surprises. Which is a f'***in' shame. After 30+ years of recording, you mean to tell me there are no monster unreleased tracks laying around the studio somewhere??? I'd love to hear their version of Freddy King's blues chestnut "Have You Ever Loved A Woman?" (a long time live staple of the band) finally make it to disc. Typical shortsightedness on the part of the industry hacks & rack jobbers that compile these things, I suppose.
Which isn't to say it's a bad collection (it's not) it just seems unneccessary is all. Most of the material here has been comped already on one of the four previous "Biggest Hits" collection from this "Lil' Ole Band from Texas".
As with any collection, there are glaring (from a fans point of view) omissions of many personal favorites ("Back Door Love Affair","Nasty Dogs and Funky Kings", "Precious & Grace") but the inclusion of lesser known tunes here such as the 6/8 time minor key blues "Just Got Back From Baby's" (shades of Magic Sam) was a nice respite from the overabundance of MTV-era Z.Z., which tends to dominate such "Hits" packages.
To put this review in a nutshell: Disc 1 rocks pretty solid. Drawn mainly from the first 5 LP's you get "La Grange", "Beer Drinkers & Hell Raisers", "Tush", "Just Got Paid" (some particularly tasty Johnny Winter by way of Michael Bloomfield styled slide work from Billy G.), "Arrested For Driving While Blind" and other party down anthems.
Disc 2 chronicles the bands evolution/de-evolution through MTV stardom and the sequenced, synth ridden, compressed guitar sound of "Eliminator", "Afterburner" and the bulk of their 80's output. The second disc ends right around the time that "Antenna" was released, with the guys returning to a more distorted and bluesier sound ("My Heads In Mississippi") not unlike that of the first 4 or 5 LP's, but with all the added bonuses of modern recording technology and the benefit of playing together for 30+ years.
In a live setting, ZZ Top is beyond tight. Tele-kinetic is a more apt description. The band members seemingly sense each others next move before it happens just like the great 50's/60's Chicago blues bands of Muddy Waters and Howling Wolf. They slam from one tune into the next, barely taking time to count 1234 or to introduce the song at hand. Truly a well oiled, adrenalin fueled, rocking machine if I've ever heard one.