The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world

The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world

ZZ TOP

LA FUTURA

LABEL

2012

 

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

 

LA FUTURA track listing:


1. I Gotsta Get Paid
2. Chartreuse
3. Consumption
4. Over You
5. Heartache in Blue
6. I Don’t Wanna Lose, Lose, You
7. Flyin’ High
8. It’s Too Easy Mañana
9. Big Shiny Nine
10. Have a Little Mercy

 

WHAT THEY SAY:

 

LA FUTURA, produced by Rick Rubin and Billy F Gibbons, the band’s guitarist/singer, finds the legendary group infusing the newly recorded work with the electric blues/roots approach that typified ZZ Top's earliest work while, at the same time, reaching for new sonic horizons. At its fundament, this is the incarnation of the band whose influence resonates today with such artists as The Black Keys, Jack White, Queens of the Stone Age and many others.

 


Now celebrating their 42nd year with the same line-up, Gibbons along with bassist/vocalist Dusty Hill and drummer Frank Beard have come up with ten tracks that reflect the band’s intuitive take on rock brought to new, sometimes surreal, plateaus. “We thought long and hard about what this album should be,” commented Gibbons. “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 FUTURA.”

 


The fact that the new album’s title is in Spanish is a nod to an early ZZ Top tradition manifested in the titles of some of the band’s earliest albums including Tres Hombres, Fandango!, El Loco and Degüello. Known for decades by the sobriquet “That Little Ol’ Band From Texas,” ZZ Top was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame by Keith Richards in 2004 and has maintained a very active international and domestic touring schedule over the intervening years. They signed to American Recordings a few years ago and have been working on what would become LA FUTURA in spurts since then. Last year they finally entered Foam Box Recordings in Houston, working full time to lay down the tracks that would comprise LA FUTURA. Additional recording for the album took place at Shangri La Studios in Malibu, CA.

 


The four songs that kick off LA FUTURA, “I Gotsta Get Paid,” “Chartreuse,” “Consumption” and “Over You” debuted last month as Texicali, a digital preview collection exclusively available from iTunes that achieved significant critical and sales success. “I Gotsta Get Paid,” performed by the band in video spots for the Jeremiah Weed line of beverages raised awareness of the song that was inspired by the 1990’s underground Houston rap song “25 Lighters” by DJ DMD with Lil’ Keke and Fat Pat. USA Today named "“I Gotsta Get Paid” its top pick of the week, citing the band for unleashing "its trademark grit and grease in a raw, bluesy rough-and-tumble treatment..." No Depression called "Consumption" "a grinding groove with a bit of Texan funk squeezed into the grooves." Music Radar analyzed "Consumption," noting, "The groove is fat, crunchy and full of swagger," summing the effort us as "ZZ Top crankin' up some fresh, vital roadhouse blues."

 

 

WHAT WE SAY

 

The first new studio album from ZZ Top in nine years is a long time for anyone to be waiting for a bus, so when that bus finally arrives it better be a nice looking bus with comfortable seats and great sound system…

 


The mini-bus that arrived a month of so back (reviewed here) was a pretty decent taster of what to expect, but as it was made up of the first four tracks here on ‘LA FUTURA’ the beef I guess most would have is that we are actually only really getting 6 new songs to listen to. That piles the pressure on!

 


Suffice to say if you read the EP review you will know that the guys are in fine fettle. And without going over that old ground I’ll just say that ‘I Gotsta Get Paid’ and especially ‘Chartreuse’ really hit the mark.  I’ll even admit to being a little unkind initially to Mr Rubin (sorry Sir). This may not be exactly the ‘back to the root’s’ ZZ we were promised it’s not as overtly digitised as I feared.

 


So while the opening pair of ‘I Gotsta Get Paid’ and ‘Chartreuse’ smoulder and the side isn’t exactly let down by ‘Consumption’ or ‘Over You’ it’s the first of the new songs: ‘Heartache in Blue’ that immediately gets you interested. It’s a strange song in that it has a later ZZ vibe and a great blues groove and while it hangs it’s hat on a lot of the Top’s trademarks it seems to fizz and meander more than it captures your imagination, it even ends abruptly.

 


The grinding guitar that starts off ‘I Don’t Wanna Lose, Lose You’ is magic and you can feel the magic rushing through the very pores of the song. Now this is more like it! Perhaps my favourite track here though is the song ‘Flying High’ that has the trademark and unmistakable ZZ Top sound but with an almost country tinge to what turns out to be a beautifully understated and irritatingly unshakable chorus! It is ZZ at their best.

 


‘It’s Too Easy Manana’ is a great big slab of smouldering blues that simmers on mid-paced splendour and really highlights a band at a creative high. I also love the way that some of the songs here so completely manage to capture the ZZ Sound and even bring to mind past songs without sounding like a cheap pastiche. ‘Big Shiny Nine’ is the kind of song that you swear must have been on a release from the late seventies/early eighties it’s that ‘authentic’ and that I guess is part of the beauty of LA FUTURA. It’s the same with closing track ‘Have a Little Mercy’ which again has that echo both instrumentally and lyrically. It may not capture the absolute peaks but it covers all the other ground and is an album that I’m sure will please a lot of fans of any era of The Top!

 

 

by Mark Diggins