ZZ Top has returned to the music scene after a nine year break, and the slick 80’s sound is gone but the boogie blues is still there. 411's Andy Rackauskas gets the keys to the car to see if women still go crazy about sharp dressed men with long beards!
Release Date - 9/11/12
Track #1 - I Gotsta Get Paid - Written-By – Albert Brown III, Billy F Gibbons, Dorie Dorsey, G.L. Moon, Joe Hardy, Kyle West - 4:03
Track #2 - Chartreuse - Written-By – Billy F Gibbons, Dusty Hill, Frank Beard, G.L. Moon - 2:57
Track #3 - Consumption - Written-By – Billy F Gibbons - 3:49
Track #4 - Over You - Written-By – Billy F Gibbons, Tom Hambridge - 4:30
Track #5 - Heartache In Blue - Written-By – Billy F Gibbons, Trey Bruce - 4:09
Track #6 - I Don't Wanna Lose, Lose, You - Written-By – Billy F Gibbons, Tom Hambridge - 4:22
Track #7 - Flyin' High - Written-By – Austin Hanks, Billy F Gibbons, D. Sardy - 4:18
Track #8 - It's Too Easy Mañana - Lyrics By – Billy F Gibbons Written-By – David Rawlings, Gillian Welch - 4:48
Track #9 - Big Shiny Nine - Written-By – Billy F Gibbons, G.L. Moon, Joe Hardy - 3:11
Track #10 - Have A Little Mercy - Written-By – Billy F Gibbons - 3:19
It’s hard not to like ZZ Top. They may not be real boundary pushers. But, like Motorhead (any coincidence that Lemmy & the gang covered ZZ’s “Beer Drinkers & Hell Raisers”?) or AC/DC…if it’s good it’s good. They have a distinct boogie blues sound that’s permeated their music since their inception in 1969. They took a little 80’s synth side-trek with “Eliminator” in 1983 that produced some of their biggest hits (like “Sharp Dressed Man”, “Legs”, & “Gimme All Your Loving”). However, their real sound is entrenched in stripped down, beefy boogie blues similar to what’s from prior albums like “Tres Hombres” or “El Loco”.
ZZ Top intended “La Futura” to be a concoction of old and new. Per their website (zztop.com), Billy Gibbon’s was quoted as saying, “We wanted to recall the directness of our early stuff, but not turn our backs on contemporary technology. The result of this melding of the past and the present is, of course, “La Furtura”.” While that sounds well and good, the fact of the matter is unless you’re an audiophile or a sound engineer, you’re probably not going to tell they used any new tech. The album sounds classic rock. But in fairness to the band’s statement, it sounds crisp and fresh…not at all dated. So, in that sense, it is a mesh. But, thankfully there are no autotune vocals or DJ scratching! It’s pure rock boogie blues. Not surprisingly, Rick Rubin (Beastie Boys, Slayer, Danzig, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Johnny Cash, Tom Petty, etc.) manned the production for the album. Rick’s usual stripped down production tactics are in full effect. The songs sound crisp and clear. They are void of unnecessary tricks or trends. It sounds pure.
Pretty much all the tracks on “La Futura” are loaded with a raw, gritty, sipped-down oomph. However, three cuts in particular really highlight that description. “Heartache in Blue” is really a straight forward blues jam. Backed by harmonica player, James Harman (probably the best relatively young harp player since the late great Lester Butler), “Heartache in Blue” simply reeks of the blues. As if the added harp & title alone don’t tell you enough… “Have a Little Mercy” is a chill groovin’ jam. It just moves slowly and methodically. However, the real highlight of the album is “I Gotsta Get Paid” (an obvious nod to their old song from 1972, “Just Got Paid”). It is pure ZZ Top. It captures Gibbon’s gravelly vocal rasp perfectly. This thick blues song is loaded with fuzz. Additionally, the sound does emulate a lot of what the Black Keys are currently doing. So in this track alone, the band is capturing the “old & new” vibe they set out to do.
Let’s be honest. A lot of ZZ Top’s stuff sounds the same. However, if the one thing you do sounds great, is that so bad? If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. It’s worked for AC/DC, why can’t we give a nod to ZZ Top? “La Futura” is loaded with solid boogie blues songs. The only folks that may be disappointed in the album would be the ones looking for the classic MTV era videos and songs. You can’t please everyone. But, “La Futura” should please many.
ZZ Top – “I Gotsta Get Paid”
ZZ Top – “Have a Little Mercy”
The 411: “La Futura” is a worthy entry in the ZZ Top repertoire. In fact, it’s probably their best album since 1983’s “Eliminator.” Rick Rubin’s sparse but crisp production brings out some of the best in the band. The band aimed for a mix of sound that took from their past and tried to be modern. The modern part really didn’t creep in much, but the classic blues sound is front and center. If you’re looking for “Sharp Dressed Man” or “Legs,” you’re not going to find it. But if you’re vibin’ on some classic “Tube Steak Boogie,” you’re going to like “La Futura.” Viva el boogie blues!