Ranking ZZ Top's '80s Videos

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Screenshot via Locke Bryan Productions
Senor!
Those seeking a tasty holiday treat need look no further than Billy F. Gibbons' new Fiesta ads; our favorite is the one where the ZZ Top singer/guitarist breaks down his recipe for homemade tamales while wearing an adorable "BFG" apron. It's obvious the camera loves the right Reverend, and it's not exactly shy about winking at his bandmates Dusty Hill and Frank Beard, either.

The Top has been laying low while Hill recuperates from the fall that sidelined him with an injured hip last September, a few days before the band was scheduled to play the Cynthia Woods Pavilion with Jeff Beck. (Make-up date is May 2, by the way.) Anyway, all of this is to say that those Gibbons spots -- we just caught the new "Christmas" one typing this Wednesday night -- got us thinking about all those great videos ZZ made back in the '80s. From there it was a short hop to all the ones that maybe weren't so great, but have retained a certain hairspray-and-Velcro charm. So happy holidays, all you sharp dressed men and women.


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Deluxe '70s Sets Make Early Gift for Rock Fans

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Led Zeppelin has recently re-released two more titles from their catalog, again remastered by Jimmy Page: the 1971 album commonly referred to as Led Zeppelin IV (or "Zoso") and 1973's followup Houses of the Holy, both now upgraded with better sound and a bonus disc of material. Each extra disc mirrors the original album's track list, but with different versions of each track that range from alternate takes to instrumental versions. It goes without saying that the albums definitely sound better, but the bonus discs are what most fans have been anticipating.

Unlike the reissues of Zeppelin's first three albums, the bonus material here does not differ noticeably from the album versions. The majority of songs are slightly different mixes that the listener can pick up if he or she has heard the albums numerous times (who hasn't?), and the remainder are instrumental mixes. Page had already worked different mixes of some of the songs at the time of recording before choosing which ones made the album, and here he shares those ideas with us.


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Fleetwood Mac Thrills Toyota Center for Two-Plus Hours

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Photos by Jack Gorman
Have Shawl, Will Travel: Stevie Nicks and Mick Fleetwood (back)
Fleetwood Mac
Toyota Center
December 15, 2014

The Mac Attack is Back! And with the Songbird back in the nest, the Chain has been reforged, and seems stronger than ever.

Okay, that may be a little heavy on the symbols and metaphors. But it's hard to overestimate the importance the Fleetwood Mac's return to its classic mid-'70s to mid-'80s lineup of Lindsey Buckingham (vocals/guitar), Stevie Nicks (vocals), namesake rhythm section Mick Fleetwood (drums) and John McVie (bass), and returning vocalist/keyboardist Christine McVie.

So many references were made by other band members onstage to McVie's unlikely and never-thought-possible comeback after 16 years (she had retired to her English castle, vowing never to make music again), that no one would have blamed her for blushing, even nearly 40 dates into this reunion tour.

Every classic-rock band of any importance or longevity has gone through lineup changes -- including Fleetwood Mac, whose origins stretch back to 1967 as a straight-up, all-English blues band. But there just seems something so...right about this lineup reconstituting. Take out any one of the five, and it's just not the same.


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Why Fleetwood Mac Is Bigger Than Ever

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Photo by Jay Lee
Fleetwood Mac in 2009
Fleetwood Mac will be playing a very special show in Houston on Monday night. It's special because it is the first time Christine McVie will be joining the band in a performance here since the early '90s at least. For many younger fans, this is their first opportunity to see the band's full classic lineup performing together.

And those younger fans? Well, there's a lot of them -- in fact, there may be more than ever. Against all odds, Fleetwood Mac has gone from a classic-rock band, relegated to bargain bins, to a thriving, relevant enterprise. Monday night's show will be a celebration of that fact.


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Casting Doubt on Eric Clapton's "Retirement" Tour

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Eagle Rock Entertainment
Eric Clapton: 69 and counting...
Planes, Trains and Eric
Directed by David Maxwell
Eagle Rock Entertainment, 156 min., $14.98 DVD/$19.98 Blu-Ray

Guitar God Eric Clapton surprised some English fans earlier this year when he announced his likely retirement from regular touring.

"The road has become unbearable," he told Uncut magazine. "It's become unapproachable, because it takes so long to get anywhere. It's hostile -- everywhere: getting in and out of airports, traveling on planes and in cars."

Then again, he told Rolling Stone essentially the same thing. Last year.


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Rock Stars and Their Weird Nature-Based Hobbies

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Photo by Vento di Grecale via Flickr
Steve Vai wishing he was wearing his bee suit.
The life of mega-famous rock stars has got to get tedious after a while. Drug-fueled backstage orgies with supermodels undoubtedly begin to grate on a person's nerves after a few years, and it makes sense that some famous musicians long to escape that fast-paced lifestyle.

A lot of famous musicians use their wealth in predictable ways, like spending it on fancy cars, and buying castles and slaves. However, many have opened non-music related businesses on the side, just in case 1950s critics were right, and that "rock and roll thing" turns out to be a fad, or if their second giant money room needs filling.

A few of those rockers have even turned to ventures involving the natural world, and the animals that interest them. That's why...


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Jim Morrison's Long-Lost Adventures Now Revealed

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Eagle Rock Entertainment
The Doors (l-r: Jim Morrison, Robby Krieger, John Densmore, and Ray Manzarek) backstage on their 1968 tour in "Feast of Friends."
The Doors: Feast of Friends
Eagle Rock Entertainment; 144 mins.; $14.98 DVD/$19.98 Blu-Ray

While definitely not for the casual fan, Feast of Friends offers hardcore Doors aficionados a treasure trove of rare and unreleased footage, all of it all glowingly restored. Shot with the band's cooperation while on their 1968 tour, the fly-on-the-wall documentary Feast of Friends was shelved once singer Jim Morrison -- who would have turned 71 years old Monday -- was arrested in Miami the next year for lewdness and profanity.

That put the band's very future in jeopardy, though some footage here was clearly shot later, judging by the length of Morrison's hair.

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This Is Your Life, Billy Joel

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Photo by Kevin Mazur/Crown Archetype
Billy Joel helped say goodbye to Shea Stadium with two massive shows in 2008.
Billy Joel: The Definitive Biography
By Fred Schruers
Crown Archetype, 400 pp. $29.

Hardcore fans of the Piano Man (including this writer) were severely bummed in 2011 when he decided to pull the plug on his autobiography, The Book of Joel, less than two months before it was slated to appear in stores. While he had be the subject of a handful of books before, some of them clip jobs, this would have been the chance to hear one of rock's most popular and lasting entertainers to tell his own story in his own words.

But Joel had some deadline-nearing misgivings about what he wanted versus the desires of publisher HarperCollins.

"They said to Fred [Schruers, co-writer for The Book of Joel], 'We need more of the sex and the wives and the girlfriends and drinking and divorce and the depression,'" Joel told The New York Times. "I covered it all. But I didn't go into detail about my personal life."


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RIP Ian McLagan, Rock Legend and Adopted Texan

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Ian McLagan (second from right) and the Bump Band in 2006
Austin is in a state of shock this afternoon after the passing of Rock and Roll Hall of Famer and Austin music icon Ian McLagan. McLagan, 69, suffered a stroke at his home in Austin on Tuesday night.

According to sources who wish to remain anonymous, McLagan, who was scheduled to play with Nick Lowe in Minneapolis tonight, suffered severe head trauma when he fell in his bathtub as a result of the stroke. According to a post in the Austin Chronicle, McLagan died at Austin's Brackenridge Hospital at 2:39 p.m.


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New Books Explore Fleetwood Mac's Vast Appetites

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CBS News/Warner Brothers
Classic Mac then -- Mick Fleetwood, Stevie Nicks, John McVie, Christine McVie and Lindsey Buckingham
Play On: Now, Then and Fleetwood Mac
By Mick Fleetwood with Anthony Bozza
Little, Brown; 352 pp.; $30.

Before the Beginning: A Personal and Opinionated History of Fleetwood Mac
By Sam Graham
eBook (iTunes only); 42 pp.; $4.99.


Mick Fleetwood used to love cocaine. I mean, love cocaine. At one point, the mathematician in him figured that if he added up all the white powder he'd sent up his nose over 20 years, the "King of Toot's" line would stretch for seven miles.

As the band's leader, he also became the drug holder, overseeing distribution of the specially-prepared packets to band members and crew which were given out on tour like food per-diem money.

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