ZZ Top’s Afterburner (1985): A straight-to-the-heart and easy-to-listen to rock album

It has taken me almost 33 years to finally get this album and listen to it in its entirety, but I did it. ZZ Top‘s 1985 album Afterburner is in my possession and spinning in my CD player right now.

I get why I wasn’t too excited about this album back when I was a kid and started listening to rock music. Afterburner is very melodic and polished, and the heavy use of synthesisers and synthesiser-like guitar sounds did not push the right buttons with me back then. However, listening to it decades later with a more adult and less judgemental ear, I can understand what the band tried to provide: A modern, straight-to-the-heart, easy-to-listen to rock album. When I write modern, I mean modern for 1985.

The songs are catchy, the production is flawless, and the album includes only killers, no fillers. Maybe it’s age, maybe it’s nostalgia, but I am enjoying this album very much right now. Uptempo songs such as Stages,  Planet of Women and the closer Delirious, as well as the beautiful slow-dance ballad Rough Boy, make Afterburner the perfect party album that can play in full-length at an 80s party, providing all feelings and emotions a party needs. Thank you Billy Gibbons, Dusty Hill, Frank Beard, and producer Bill Ham for creating this legendary ZZ Top album. Definitely a must-have in any music collection.

ZZ Top - Afterburner (1985)

Sebastiano Mereu

YouTuber + host of the #FHTZ online music show with co-producer @simonkurt + marketing & digital content producer + university lecturer