Picks and Pans Review: Afterburner

updated 12/09/1985 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 12/09/1985 AT 01:00 AM EST

ZZ Top

Rock's shaggiest trio certainly got gussied up for this successor to their huge hit Eliminator, which has stayed on the charts for more than 135 weeks. Afterburner is more polished and, in some cases, sweeter than ZZ's usual roughhouse antics. Performing such smoothed-out pop tunes as Stages and Rough Boy, the group sounds surprisingly comfortable. Of course, the meal ticket for guitarist Billy Gibbons, bassist Dusty Hill and drummer Frank Beard is still rural boogie, played leathery tough. They stoke that tight, chugalug rhythm on Woke Up With Wood to best effect. Indeed, maybe this album should be called Manipulator because the boys show a pretty cagey understanding of how to stay hot and happy in the music business. Tying two of their catchiest melodies to Dipping Low and Planet of Women virtually assures that these will be made into videos. The lyrics to these songs dictate that the boys pay a visit to an exotic tropical locale in the first and spend a few days on a sound-stage full of models in the second. This is a group that is obviously not all that embarrassed to admit that it has a shrewd commercial sense. (Warner Bros.)

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