Enjoy and Get It On Netflix
A haw, haw, haw, a how did ZZ Top get a documentary dedicated to them on Netflix? They are not particularly lighting up the music charts, nor have there been any major controversies lately… Well, I guess it is best not to question “Why?” when one of your top 5 rock bands in the universe is getting some attention. Just be thankful that they are!
I was so glad to see Sam Dunn’s name come up on the screen as That Little Ol’ Band from Texas’ director. I have been watching his documentaries since his excellent Metal: A Headbanger’s Journey came out in 2005 and have been keeping up with his YouTube channel, Banger TV. So I knew the power trio was in good hands.
Well, maybe too good of hands…
I would have liked to see the doc take a deeper dive into some of the questions I haven’t had an answer to in decades. To be clear, I know I’m not owed an explanation for any of these, this is just my wishlist.
Like, why was their long time manager (and basically fourth member) Bill Ham let go in 1996? And the songwriting shenanigans? Super Deke covered the Linden Hudson controversy in-depth on his blog, which Hudson himself even commented on, but you won’t find a mention of it in this film.
And how about The Nightcaps who had a moderate hit on ’60s Tejas radio with:
Which ZZ Top covered on their Fandango! album (starts at 1:15):
But The Nightcaps never received a dime in royalties for it since they didn’t register a copyright on the tune before ZZ did 1975.
Well, ZZ has always been notoriously private. Their lead singer and guitar player, Billy Gibbons has managed to keep his personal life out of the spotlight for 50 years. Bass player and another lead vocal, Dusty Hill is mostly on the same page. As far as I know, he has only made the news once with a medical scare a few years ago, and he wears his love for Elvis Prestly firmly on his sleeve.
Drummer Frank Beard, on the other hand, is a completely open book. His moments in the film are highlights. Not because he was addicted to heroin, but how he presents his experiences in a matter of fact way and doesn’t shy away from his mistakes. I totally dig that.
So I can recommend That Little Ol’ Band from Texas like how I recommended Green Book, by focusing on what the film does instead of what it doesn’t. Sam Dunn (or the band) wanted to stay firmly out of the weeds and focused on mostly the high points reached when delivering 50 years’ worth of hard “bluesy” rock. And this doc accomplishes just that. Where they got their start, what their roots are, reaching mainstream success, the ’80s sound, and the MTV. It is all here.