Ain’t It About Time for an Epic ZZ Top Marathon?

Courtesy Warner Bros. Records

ZZ Top
The Complete Studio Albums 1970-1990
Warner Bros.

Anybody who knows ZZ Top mainly for snazzy ’80s hits such as “Legs” and “Sharp Dressed Man” is only getting part of the story. Long before the bearded trio became an MTV staple via exuberant, cartoonish videos and a crackling fusion of synth-pop and bar-room boogie, “That Little Ol’ Band from Texas” (as they call themselves) was a premier blues-rock outfit, devoted curators of the legacy of Howlin’ Wolf and John Lee Hooker, but never slavish imitators.

This greasy 10-disc set, touted as featuring the original album mixes (for you record geeks), offers a terrific excuse to binge, ranging from sleazy early favorites like “Cheap Sunglasses” and “Tush” to their improbable mainstream success. Billy Gibbons and company continue to make tasty albums—most recently, 2012’s La Futura—though today they sound as anachronistic as the artists who inspired them.