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Milton Lage
ZZ Top (Billy Gibbons, Dusty Hill, Frank Beard)
Writing Credits:

ZZ Top, the "little ol' band from Texas", has enjoyed enormous success on a global scale since their breakthrough in the early seventies and then their groundbreaking albums in the mid-eighties. Now for the first time one of ZZ Top's legendary live performances has been filmed for simultaneous release on DVD & Blu-ray. The track listing spans their career from early tracks such as "Waitin' For The Bus", "Just Got Paid" and the classic "La Grange", through their eighties blockbusters including "Gimme All Your Lovin'" and "Legs" (complete with furry guitars!) and up to more recent hits like "Pin Cushion". Filmed in their home state of Texas in front of a wildly enthusiastic audience, this DVD & Blu-ray captures ZZ Top at their very best.

Track Listing -> 1) Got Me Under Pressure 2) Waitin' For The Bus 3) Jesus Just Left Chicago 4) I'm Bad, I'm Nationwide 5) Pin Cushion 6) Cheap Sunglasses 7) Pearl Necklace 8) Heard It On The X 9) Just Got Paid 10) Rough Boy 11) Blue Jean Blues 12) Gimme All Your Lovin' 13) Sharp Dressed Man 14) Legs 15) Tube Snake Boogie 16) La Grange 17) Tush

Rated NR

Widescreen 1.78:1/16X9
English DTS 5.1
English Dolby Digital 5.1
English Dolby Stereo 2.0
Not Closed-captioned
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 85 min.
Price: $14.99
Release Date: 6/24/08

• “Poker Game” Featurette
• “Dallas Show Day” Featurette
• “Photo Shoot” Featurette
• “Foxey Lady” Bonus Song

• Booklet


Panasonic 50" TH-50PZ77U 1080p Plasma Monitor; Harman/Kardon DPR 2005 7.1 Channel Receiver; Toshiba A-30 HD-DVD/1080p Upconverting DVD Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.

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ZZ Top: Live From Texas (2007)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (June 11, 2008)

While other bands like the Rolling Stones have existed longer than ZZ Top, the Texas trio stand out in one way: consistent longevity. Guitarist Billy Gibbons, bassist Dusty Hill and drummer Frank Beard came together in 1969 and have endured without a break ever since then. Some other acts may have lasted longer without a pause and without a change in members, but if so, they’re few and far between.

We get a look at ZZ Top circa 2007 via the simply titled Live From Texas. Performed at the Nokia Theater in Dallas, the 17-song show offers a recap of the band’s long career. Nothing comes off of 1971’s ZZ Top’s First Album, but 1972’s Rio Grande Mud gives us “Just Got Paid”. 1973’s Tres Hombre provides “Waitin’ for the Bus”, “Jesus Just Left Chicago” and “La Grange”, while 1975’s Fandango throws out “Tush”, “Heard It On the X” and “Blue Jean Blues”.

We skip 1977’s Tejas but get two tracks from 1979’s Deguello: “Cheap Sunglasses” and “I’m Bad, I’m Nationwide”. “Tube Snake Boogie” and “Pearl Necklace” come from 1981’s El Loco, and 1983’s MTV-fueled smash Eliminator presents “Gimme All Your Lovin’”, “Legs”, “Got Me Under Pressure” and “Sharp Dressed Man”. 1985’s follow-up Afterburner presents “Rough Boy”, and 1994’s Antenna delivers “Pin Cushion”.

ZZ Top may be far removed from the days in which they topped the charts, but they can still put on a good show. Don’t expect something tremendously active and vibrant, however. After all, the band consists of three guys almost in their sixties, though I doubt their age really matters. I never saw ZZ Top live in their heyday, but I doubt they behaved much differently on stage than they do now.

This means a restrained show but not one without its visual elements. Gibbons and Hill have their stage shtick down pat, as they throw out some minor choreography at times ala the spinning guitars and other bits they popularized in their music videos.

I’m pleased to report that director Milton Lage doesn’t resort to any quick-cutting or other visual gimmicks to artificially spice up the proceedings. Given the stationary nature of the performers, that must’ve been tempting, but it rarely occurs. The show features fairly smooth transitions while it seems to give us a pretty good representation of the concert. Crowd shots are kept to a minimum, so they also fail to distract.

All of this places the emphasis where it belongs: on the music. After all these years, the members of ZZ Top have played the tunes hundreds – and perhaps thousands – of times, so they have them down by now. They perform the tunes well and bring life to them even though they should be sick of them by now. Maybe they are really tired of the songs, but it doesn’t come across that way; all the numbers come to life well.

I can’t say that I’ll ever view ZZ Top: Live From Texas as one of my concert DVD faves, but that’s more a reflection of my only moderate interest in the band. They perform the tunes well here, and the DVD conveys their live show in a solid manner. This becomes an effective portrayal of a concert.

The DVD Grades: Picture B+/ Audio B/ Bonus C-

ZZ Top: Live From Texas appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.78:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. A consistently fine presentation, I found little about which to complain in regard to the DVD’s visuals.

Sharpness mostly seemed solid. Occasionally, wide shots came across as a little soft and ill defined. However, those examples appeared infrequently and did little to distract from the rest of the presentation, which usually looked concise and detailed. I noticed no issues with jagged edges or moiré effects, and I also detected no signs of edge enhancement. Source flaws looked absent, and I saw no issues related to artifacting, noise, or other distractions.

Since the band dressed in dark tones, the majority of the colors came from lighting. Those hues looked well developed and accurate. Even the thickest lighting remained distinctive and rich. Blacks were deep and dense, while low-light shots came across as reasonably clear and appropriately visible. Overall, this was a solid visual presentation.

In terms of audio, the DVD provided both Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS 5.1 soundtracks. Should you expect notable differences between the two? Nope, not according to my ears, at least. Both sounded very similar to me.

Given the spare instrumentation found from the three-piece band, the mix didn’t have to fight to make the elements heard. They were well placed in the soundfield and meshed smoothly. Surround usage leaned toward crowd noise and general reinforcement of the music, though it seemed a little more active in that regard than most concert programs. The surrounds accurately and solidly supported the front but didn’t cause distractions.

Audio quality sounded decent but unexceptional. Vocals showed too much echo and portrayed a moderately distant sound. They still came across as acceptably accurate, but they lacked the natural tones I’d like. Midrange dominated the piece and dynamics seemed only moderately good. Though most high-end material was fairly clear and well rendered, bass response was adequate but no better. Low-end seemed somewhat lacking, and I didn’t get the sense of warmth from the track that I expected. I’ve heard worse, but I’ve also heard better.

A smattering of extras fill out the DVD. Three featurettes appear here. Poker Game runs 18 minutes, 37 seconds as it includes comments from band members Dusty Hill, Frank Beard and Billy Gibbons. As they play cards, they chat about their career together. Some interesting tales emerge, but they come out in a scattershot manner. The program lacks real coherence, so it becomes a frustrating history of the band. A better structured featurette would’ve been more satisfying.

Dallas Show Day goes for six minutes, 45 seconds as it goes through all the events that lead up to a concert. We see the stage get put together as well as other aspects of the production. It’s a decent glimpse of the ZZ Top experience, though don’t expect many insights into the technical side of things.

For the last featurette, we get the four-minute and 40-second Photo Shoot. Here we watch the band on location as they pose. It’s not particularly interesting.

A bonus live performance comes next. Foxey Lady runs four minutes, 32 seconds as the band runs through the Hendrix classic. I have no idea why it doesn’t appear as part of the main concert program. I can’t call it a great version of the tune, but I’m glad it shows up as a bonus.

Finally, a booklet finishes the set. It includes a little history and a lot of praise for the band along with some photos from the concert. While not particularly valuable, it’s an easy read.

After nearly 40 years, ZZ Top still churn out their brand of Texas rock, and we get an update on them in Live From Texas. The program presents a 2007 concert in a satisfying way and shows them in reasonably good form. The DVD offers very good picture, pretty positive audio, and a few minor supplements. With a bargain list price of less than $15, this is a nice buy for ZZ Top fans.

Viewer Film Ratings: 4.5 Stars Number of Votes: 8
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