Forward into The Past
4 Out Of 4 Stars
ZZ Top are still best remembered for their flashy videos, that crazy car and the buzzed out synths riding atop songs about legs and sharp dressed men. What most forget is that they started as a Texas blues and boogie outfit, making the most of their three piece line-up. That led to such great albums and songs like "Tush," "Tejas" and "Fandango." "La Futura" is a look back to that era, with producer Rick Rubin nudging Dusty Hill, Billy Gibbons and Frank Beard towards s stripped down electric blues, letting the trio wail away like it was 1974.
That doesn't make "La Futura" a great album or a return to form, as they've been doing this music under the radar on discs like "Rhythmeen" and "Mescalaro," just without the hype. The sound is still instantly recognizable with Gibbons and Hill trading lead vocals and Gibbons' snarly guitar licks sounding exclusive to him. The songs are also appropriately snappy, with the growl of "Gotsta Get Paid" and "Have A Little Mercy" again sounding like no band except ZZ Top. And finally taking the shackles off of Frank Beard may be the best thing about "La Futura," as he can now freely whack his snare drums without worrying about a drum machine.
I guess what bums me out here are two things; that the songs all sound recycled from other ZZ Top tunes, and that the album barely clocks in at a 40 mins for 10 songs. With almost a decade between discs and the hype of Rubin behind the boards (one of the few times Gibbons has shared the bench with any other than Bill Ham), I was expecting something more. fans will enjoy this, non-fans will scracth their heads, while classic rock radio will Que up "Sharp Dressed Man" for another spin.