Being that there aren't any significant ZZ Top video/DVD releases via the commercial underground labels, this new DVD from Howling Wolf Productions is worthy of attention for that fact alone. Couple that setup with the superb quality of the footage presented and you have a winning situation.
Fans of that little ol' band from Texas will find this an essential aquisition. Check that, any collector would be hard pressed to ignore this even if it's just a passing interest in the trio and their formulaic schtick. This is a great compilation and solid performances abound, mostly because they don't deviate from what they do best- which can get a bit repetitious on these compilations that focus on a specific time period - but it's easy to skip around on this format which is perfect in this case and some of the other compilation DVD's ala Bad Wizard/Scorpio, etc.
The Rockpalast 1980 show that is the core piece of "three lone wolfs" is the complete broadcast performance and does have some rousing moments but those spikes in the festivities center around the pre-1980 tunes and hits. Otherwise it's just a straightline affair with solid playing and canned banter from the band. The source video utilized is absolutely pristine and is a stereo broadcast version - very enjoyable but as I said, a show that doesn't vary it's tempo too much at all (a trend that you identify as you see more footage from the band. It all depends on the audience response and/or occaision).
The bonus or support performances that round out the DVD don't really offer anything more except a different setting. The Rockpop concert from 1982 provides us a glimpse at that 80's look and ambience with lots of color and that tone we would be saturated with during their growing MTV exposure. The most memorable piece on here is the Swedish broadcast from 1983 in which our host is on the stage interviewing Billy Gibbons and Dusty Hill. It almost has the look of a Las Vegas Casino showfloor with just a riser for a stage and dinner tables populating the floor area. Our swedish host couldn't wait to ask the question, "isn't it funny that your drummer's name is Frank Beard and he's the one that doesn't have one?" Billy just snickers and looks at Dusty quick, a pause of silence and Billy leans over to the mike and says, "very funny". Then they move on to discussing songwriting topics surrounding strip clubs and bars, etc. - finally, they play! A very awkward exchange prior to the actual show but interesting nonetheless.
The most energetic snipet here is the final piece of footage from the PinkPop Festival '82 where we are treated to 3 tunes only but they are effective. "Party On The Patio" is a perfect opener for this outdoor gig and the mood is very festive indeed. Looks like fun, sounds like fun and a great way to round out a superbly produced DVD.
The packaging is outstanding, with great imagery and color with the same treatment on the interior of the digipack. The DVD programming is efficiently executed to jump around easily between the various shows. After seeing the band in the Summer of 2007, they haven't changed things up a bit which I think is fine because they are pretty straightforward with the presentation but that little 3-step choreographed jig that Billy and Dusty do constantly - and those god-awful beards simply have to go. When you see the earlier pictures of Billy Gibbons circa 1976-77 utilized for the menus on the DVD, they would come across so much better if they'd just let go of that crap. There, I've said my peace. A great little 'ol DVD here that Top fans will relish for a long time. How about a similar project with earlier material now?