Our Top 10 ZZ Top Album Covers list will look at a legendary rock band that has been around since the late 60s. They are known for their live performances, slick and funny lyrics and long beards. No one would ever call this rock band ordinary. They have released several albums throughout their career. ZZ Top has sold over 50 million records worldwide. They have won numerous awards. They were inducted in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2004. In 2015, Billy Gibbons was voted as one of the greatest guitarists of all time. They may not be flashy dressers, but they know how to get your attention. They do the same thing with their album covers. Their album covers are just as unique as the band. They are like looking at works of art. They have people talking and wondering what’s going on in the pictures.
ZZ Top started out as an unknown band, but they blew up into the legends that we know today. ZZ Top didn’t wear high fashion clothes. They kept it casual. They dress like your next-door neighbor. They weren’t slaves to fashion. They used their creativity for their music as well as their album covers. Their creativity shows in their album covers. When it comes to the album covers, ZZ Top thinks outside of the box. Their covers don’t resemble anyone else’s. Some of the covers may amuse you while others will make your jaw drop from amazement. Unlike most artists, ZZ Top don’t appear on too many of their album covers. They let the covers speak for themselves. Not being on the cover is a risky move because fans may not know who they are without their picture on the cover. This didn’t stop them from having creative album covers.
ZZ Top’s album covers change with their looks. They wanted to look different from other rock stars. They were initially trying to look different from other artists. The style became their signature look. ZZ Top has a lot of different album covers to choose from. The covers range from different subjects and styles. You can discover some of their creative vision on our Top 10 ZZ Top Album Covers list.
# 10 – Tejas
The first pick on our Top 10 ZZ Top Album Covers list is Tejas. This is ZZ Top’s fifth studio album. This is the album where the band was transitioning into rock music. They started out as a blues band before they gravitated towards rock music. The picturesque album cover is a picture of the desert. They use pastel colors to give it a soft look. It makes you want to take a walk in the desert. The picture was taken at night because there is a shot of a full moon and stars in the sky. There is a picture of a bull in the background. The name of the album is written in fancy lettering. It is also in pastel colors. You can see smoke on the right side of the album. It could be an indicator that the album is smoking hot.
The cover of the album is relaxing. ZZ Top aren’t on the cover of the album. This is an homage to their hometown in Texas. They wanted to represent their home state on the cover. You may or may not be able to tell if the album is a rock album. This adds to the mystique of the cover. Tejas was released in November 1976. It peaked at number 17 on Billboard 200. The album features the singles “It’s Only Love,” “Arrested for Driving While Blind” and “Enjoy and Get It On.” The album sold over 500,000 copies.
# 9 – Deguello
The next pick on our Top 10 ZZ Top Album Covers list is Deguello. This is ZZ Top’s sixth studio album. This is another album during the time when the band was transitioning into rock music. The creepy album cover looks like something from a horror movie. There is a skull at the bottom center of the cover. There are bullets piercing through a white flag. It is the symbol of someone surrendering, but it doesn’t do any good. If you look closely, you can see the flagpole breaking in half as the bullets pierce through it. The album cover is symbolic because critics thought the band reached their peak creatively. ZZ Top wanted to prove that they weren’t finished. They refused to surrender.
The cover has a red background with black writing. There is also a white border around the cover. The band is on the inside sleeve, but they aren’t on the cover. The name of the album means destroying your enemy without showing any mercy. The album cover was symbolic of what the band was dealing with from the critics. It will give you something to talk about as you are admiring the cover. It is a message that makes sense once you know what the band was dealing with while they were recording the album. Deguello was released in November 1979. The album peaked at number 24 on Billboard 200. The album features the singles “I Thank You” and “Cheap Sunglasses.” The album sold over one million copies.
# 8 – Mescalero
Mescalero is ZZ Top’s 14th studio album. ZZ Topwanted to change their style of music. They still had blues and rock, but they wanted to include country and Tejano music on the album. The unique album cover takes place on a desert. The cover features a skeleton wearing a white shirt and a pink cloak draped over the shoulder. It is also wearing a sombrero. The skeleton is drinking mescal in the middle of the desert. The skeleton has red flames shooting out of its mouth as if the drink is red hot. The sun appears to be setting on the album cover. You can see the shadow of three guys in the background. We can safely assume the guys are ZZ Top.
The album cover is colorful. The artist used different colors to create the album cover. The artwork isn’t all bright. There are splashes of darkness in the picture. The artist included shadows for the cactus, cabin and the band. The illustration gives a great representation of Tejano music. You may find yourself questioning what is going on in the picture. This album was created later on in their career so it is possible they wanted their music and the artwork to do the talking for them. Most artists include their faces on their album, but ZZ Top chose a thumbnail to include on the cover. Their pictures are in the shape of shadows. Mescalero was released in September 2003. The album peaked at number 57 on Billboard 200. It features the singles “Two Ways to Play,” “Me So Stupid” and “Piece.”
# 7 – Tres Hombres
Tres Hombres is the band’s third studio album. This album helped launch their career in the US. They were still doing blues music mixed with rock, but the world was starting to notice them as a band. They chose a different approach for this album. This is an understated album cover that allows the band to show their faces on the cover. The background is mostly green with fading black lettering to show the title of the album as well as their name. The band is featured on the cover in separate pictures. The band has separate pictures on the cover. Each man is doing something different on the cover. One member is looking down at the ground. One is on a telephone pole, and one is sitting on the edge of a cliff.
The album cover gives you different looks of Texas. There may not be much in the picture, but it will still make you question what is happening in it. This album cover features photographs instead of artwork. The men look like everyday citizens. They look the way people would look in Texas. The title of the album means three men, so it makes sense that three men are on the cover. This album looks different from their other album covers. They don’t have caricatures on the cover. Tres Hombres peaked at number eight on Billboard 200. The album features the single “La Grange.” The album sold over 500,000 copies.
# 6 – Antenna
Antenna is ZZ Top’s 11th studio album. ZZ Top changed their musical style back to blues. Critics thought they were drifting away from their blues style of music. This album is proof that they never lost their blues edge. The inventive album cover features the band in illustrative form. It is a black and white picture of the three legends. The artist even captured the long beards Billy Gibbons and Dusty Hill have. The legends look like they are in the desert. There is an antenna tower in the background. ZZ Top are surrounded by the waves from the antenna. The album is called Antenna, so they did the right thing by including one on the album cover.
When you look at the album cover, you can’t help smiling. It is a silly cover, but it fits the band. They aren’t like other artists, so it fits them. There aren’t too many artists who would choose a cartoon to depict their features. They would usually want to show their faces to the world. ZZ Top are a groundbreaking band so they aren’t focused on their looks. It is a minimalist picture because it just features the band and the antenna. Antenna was released in February 1994. The album peaked at number 14 on Billboard 200. It features the singles “Breakaway,” “Fuzzbox Voodoo,” “Girl in a T-shirt” and “Pincushion.” The album sold over one million copies.
# 5 – Rhythmeen
The next pick on our Top 10 ZZ Top Album Covers is Rhythmeen. This is ZZ Top’s 12th studio album. ZZ Top returned to their blues sound with this album. The idyllic album cover features a picture of an elixir bottle. ZZ Top named the elixir Rhythmeen because it described their sound. The word was the true definition of their sound. The elixir bottle is filled halfway. The bottle has seen better days, but it is still surviving. There is a close shot of the ground. The picture will remind you of a fall day. There are leaves on the ground. The photographer did a fantastic job blending the bottle with the ground. There is an excellent blend of darkness and light. The band’s name is written in big white letters to take away from the darkness of the photo.
ZZ Top isn’t featured on the cover. They let the elixir be the star of the album cover. The album cover isn’t flashy. In fact, it says a lot without saying much. They kept the cover simple and is designed to make you think. We wonder if it was a strategic move to have their name in big letters and the album title in small letters. Did they want the fans to focus on them and not the album title? Rhythmeen was released in September 1996. The album peaked at number 29 on Billboard 200. Rhythmeen features the singles “Bang Bang,” “She’s Just Killing Me,” “What’s Up with That” and “Rhythmeen.”
# 4 – El Loco
El Loco is ZZ Top’s seventh studio album. The band had more of a synth sound on this album. The questionable album cover features the band dressed in blue jumpsuits. They look like they are escaping from something. At first glance it looks as if they are running from the law. There is a cowboy holding a gun who appears to be chasing the band. He doesn’t catch up to the band because they manage to stay a step ahead of him. If the guy in the background wasn’t pointing a gun at the guys, it would look like a peaceful setting. The sky is a pretty color blue. There are no clouds in the sky. They are hinting at a breakthrough that is about to come. Their biggest hit album was released after this one.
This is one of the few album covers that feature ZZ Top’s faces. If they are on the cover of the albums, their faces are obscured so you can’t really see them. This album cover gives a decent shot of their faces. The guys are smiling in the picture. They look happy in the picture even though a man is pointing a gun at them. Their jumpsuits and sombreros are dirty, so it makes you wonder what they were doing to get that way. El Loco means madman. It would explain the man who is trying to shoot them. He is trying to shoot them in broad daylight. El Loco was released in June 1981. The album peaked at number 17 on Billboard 200. El Loco features the singles “Leila,” “Tube Snake Boogie” and “Pearl Necklace.” The album sold over 500,000 copies.
# 3 – Recycler
Recycler is ZZ Top’s 10th studio album. This is a futuristic album cover. The band is surrounded by a car. They appear to be in a junkyard. There are different types of cars in the yard. The picture is in darkness and shadows instead of in light. The only light featured in the picture is from the headlight of the car. The band’s name is in silver chrome like rims on a car. ZZ Top look like cartoon figures on the cover. It would be hard to see them if the light wasn’t featured in the picture. The photographer creatively made the cars in the picture look as if they are on a wall. If you look closely, you can see that the cars are on the ground.
Darkness dominates the photo, but the headlights illuminate the darkness. ZZ Top made a different choice to go incognito on the cover. They don’t look realistic in the picture. They look like they are in a Batman cartoon. If you look at their faces, they don’t look happy. They are wearing sunglasses in the dark and they look unhappy. Recycler was released in October 1990. The album peaked at number six on Billboard 200. It features the singles “Doubleback,” “Concrete and Steel,” “My Head’s in Mississippi,” “Give It Up” and “Burger Man.” The album sold over one million copies.
# 2 – Afterburner
Afterburner is ZZ Top’s ninth studio album. This is an interpretive album cover for the band. ZZ Top wanted people to know that they were a known rock band. They came up with the title because it is the best part of the rocket. The album cover features a sports car orbiting the world. ZZ Top wanted to show that the band had become internationally known. It is not just a cover. It is a painting. Barry E. Jackson (album cover artist) wanted to depict a drawing and a painting. The car looks as if it is flying to the moon. He magically turned the car into a spaceship. It makes you believe a car can fly. The car has wings. The car is soaring into a flaming ball as it orbits the globe.
Barry E. Jackson gives you a glimpse of life in outer space. You can see two planets while the car is orbiting in the world. The album cover has a balance of darkness and light. The band’s name flies past you as the car circles the globe. The rays coming from the headlights provide extra light in the picture. ZZ Top aren’t featured on the cover of the album. They let the artwork speak for itself. Afterburner was released in October 1985. The album peaked at number four on Billboard 200. Afterburn features the singles “Sleeping Bag,” “Stages,” “Rough Boy,” “Velcro Fly” and “Planet of Women.” The album sold over five million copies.
# 1 – Eliminator
The number one pick on our Top 10 ZZ Top Album Covers list is Eliminator. This is ZZ Top’s eighth album. This is the album that made the band a household name. This is their most successful album to date. At the time this was one of their edgier albums. They wanted to change their style of music. The imaginative album cover features a picture of a Ford coupe. The title of the album is a term for drag racing, so it is befitting that the band had a picture of a car on the album cover. The picture has a dark background. The car is red and looks like a classic. The headlights on the car illuminate the scene. There are rays from the lights that rise to the top of the picture. The setting of the picture was at night because you can see the stars in the back.
The album cover is tastefully done. It looks like a painting you would see hanging in an art gallery. It is hard to tell if the car is in motion or if it’s standing still. The car looks as if it is coming at you. This is another album cover that doesn’t feature the band. There is not a lot going on in this album cover, but it will take your breath away. The artist wanted people to focus on the car as well as the beautiful night sky. Eliminator was released in March 1983. The album peaked at number nine on Billboard 200. It features the singles “Gimme All Your Lovin’,” “Sharp Dressed Man,” “TV Dinners” and “Legs.” The album sold over 11 million copies.
Top 10 ZZ Top Album Covers article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2023
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