Happy Anniversary: ZZ Top, Fandango!
For anyone who didn’t discover ZZ Top until their exposure level jumped exponentially with the videos that accompanied the release of their 1983 album, Eliminator, today’s anniversary may be a bit surprising, but – hold onto your hats – it’s been 39 years since the band released the half-live, half-studio extravaganza known as Fandango!
Actually, even those who weren’t familiar with Fandango! when it was originally released have almost certainly come to know at least one of its tracks: “Tush,” which was the band’s first top-20 pop hit (if only just barely, since it topped out at #20) and remained its only top-20 hit until the aforementioned Eliminator brought them another one with “Legs.”
Fandango! led off with its live material: a couple of covers (“Thunderbird” and “Jailhouse Rock”), and the so-called “Backdoor Medley” which mixed three ZZ tracks with a hefty helping of Willie Dixon’s “Mellow Down Easy.” Over on Side B, the half-dozen studio efforts are all pretty solid, but it’s the closing one-two punch of “Heard It on the X” and “Tush” that really leaves listeners confident in the Top’s ability to seriously rock the blues.
By the way, just in case there’s anyone out there who’s still bitter about the way Fandango! was remixed in the late ‘80s and never got the memo, you should know that the album was remastered in 2006 using the original mix by Terry Manning, recording engineer extraordinaire, so don’t hesitate to pick up a copy. Of course, the same also goes for any of you who’ve never owned a copy, because if you like ZZ Top at all, Fandango! really is a must-have.