Chances are, if you’ve met someone from Texas, they’ll be sure to let you know within the first five minutes of meeting them. There’s a whole lot of pride that comes along with being a Texan. Legendary band ZZ Top is the musical manifestation of that pride. In ZZ Top: That Little Ol’ Band From Texas, we see the origin and growth of the longest-running rock-and-roll line up of all time.
“There’s a whole lot of pride that comes along with being a Texan. Legendary band ZZ Top is the musical manifestation of that pride.”
If you were around during the ’80s at all, you almost certainly saw one of their music videos on MTV back when they actually showed music videos. This was my own personal introduction to the band as a small child that started my life-long fascination with the bearded bluesmen. As I got older and music became more important to me I discovered their older, more blues-oriented music. That Little Ol’ Band From Texas acknowledges exactly how important that MTV was for their career development and for people all around the world to discover their music.
Thankfully, the documentary starts from the very beginning of each member’s musical career. Bassist Dusty Hill originally had a band with his brother Rocky called The Warlocks. Drummer Frank Beard joined them. When Frank Beard moved from Dallas to Houston, he met Billy Gibbons, who had formed ZZ Top already, but the other members moved on to different careers. After a 3-hour long jam session, the current line-up of ZZ Top was born, nearly five decades ago.
“…weaves wonderful mythology that leaves you happy for the band’s longevity and ready for more from the sharp-dressed men.”
ZZ Top: That Little Ol’ Band From Texas uses live concert footage, photographs, and animations to tell their history, in addition to interviews with all three members in the present. In addition to that, we get to see them perform some of their most classic songs together in the studio, such as “Shuffle in C” and “La Grange”, among others. One of my favorite things about the documentary is the other musicians they talk to who were influenced by ZZ Top, which includes Steve Miller, Dan Auerbach from The Black Keys, Winston Marshall from Mumford & Sons, and a musician who I’m pretty embarrassingly obsessed with, Josh Homme from Queens of The Stone Age, Kyuss, and more. For good measure, Billy Bob Thornton is also there to throw in his two cents, which definitely adds some flavor. He refers to seeing ZZ Top “like seeing Bugs Bunny in-person” due to their beards and outfits lending them a larger than life persona. We also meet engineers and publicists who worked with the band down the line.
I greatly enjoyed ZZ Top: That Little Ol’ Band From Texas, because I found out the reality behind a band that has always had a bit of a mythos behind them, much like the great state of Texas itself. I hope that people who have somehow never heard of this Texan trio will watch the movie and discover the greatness that is their back catalog. My biggest hope is that maybe some people who didn’t like them before might appreciate them when they figure out how hard these men have worked for 50 years to have one of the most unique sounds in musical history. Director Sam Dunn weaves wonderful mythology that leaves you happy for the band’s longevity and ready for more from the sharp-dressed men.