on October 4, 2012
I can never find fault with anything Billy Gibbons does, for me there is really nothing to fault on the songwriting or playing...it's ZZ Top. As others have mentioned get the version at Best Buy for the bonus tracks, two of the better songs on the cd.
Where this falls down the stairs is the same thing that most modern recordings suffer from.... the volume level and lack of dynamic range. It's too high, it's distorted (not the good kind), overly compressed and quickly becomes tiresome to listen too. Listen to this album on a stereo with meters to understand why it doesnt grab you like it should....the meters don't move, in other words it's flat with no dynamics. There may have been some feel in the studio when they laid down the tracks...but by the time it was mastered whatever soul these tunes had was mowed down to a pulp. Being the tone fiend Gibbons is I am surprised he let this go sounding like it does. "Over You" is one of the songs that reminds me of the soulful playing and song writing they are capable of...maybe it's just because its the first tune to give your ears a break from the razor blades coming out of the speakers.
Any ZZ Top album is full of great guitar by Billy Gibbons, on that alone this is worth a buy if thats your thing, the guy stands alone on what he does and how well he does it. But I cant get past the terrible production and overboosted volume of the recording, I'll bet vinyl doesnt even make this sound good. My collection of albums ruined by terrible production continues to grow...
Edit: Great site to confirm the terrible production, but there is hope..seems there are better versions
on September 11, 2012
I'm a rocker for me it's all about the guitar. I've come to expect blues rock from ZZ Top and this album has blues and rock in spades nicely blended together. There ain't no pop; get up and dance music on this album it's all about the blues.
I Gotsa Get Paid opens with a nice blistering guitar, raspy vocals and strong back beat.
Chartreuse lightens up the mood a bit but still rocks with a nice snappy beat, catchy blues riff and nice guitar solo.
Consumption flows well from the previous track and again a nice sizzling bluesy solo in the middle.
Over You is a nice slow ballad perfect for a rocking slow dance with your sweetie where Billy really shines on vocals with a nice slow searing solo in the middle.
Heartache In Blue has a nice slow beat with some great background vocals throughout and a nice catchy riff.
I don't Wanna Lose, Lose, You has a nice catchy chorus you can't help but sing along to and some nice subtle guitar work (I'm surprised I haven't heard this one on the radio yet).
Flying High's opening riff is classic ZZ Top and once again we get a nice catchy chorus where Billy shines again on vocals, a nice riff and great guitar solo (maybe the best on the album) to boot.
It's So Easy Manana slows the pace down again but in a rocking way.
Big Shiny Nine's opening sounds a bit like more recent popish ZZ Top stripped down and fits in nicely with the rest of the songs on this album and definitely shines with a short and sweet drum passage in the middle before a nice guitar outtro.
Have A Little Mercy wraps up the fun with a nice slow tempo leaving you wanting more which I really do.
I gots to admit that everyone sounds great on this album. I really like the way Billy sounds on vocals. I'd have to say in short if you like the earlier ZZ Top sound and were waiting for them to go back to their roots this album is for you. I've already listened to it 3 times today and honestly feel that there isn't a bad song on this album.
on September 11, 2012
Ever since the 1980's ended, ZZ Top have never quite abandoned the synthesized boogie blues that dominated the trio of albums they had out during that decade, during the commercial peak of their popularity. They have attempted to return back to their earlier blues roots, and occasionally inject the groove into the mix without the synthesizer, and most of the time, they have fallen short due to a lack of strong hooks.
On 2012's "La Futura," the hooks have returned, and the band sounds fierce and immediate, The leadoff track "Gotsta Get Paid" is a re-working of a hip hop classic (but it sounds remarkably like the ZZ Top of old). "Chartreuse" combines the groove of "Tush" with the pop sensibilities of "Sharp Dressed Man." The track "Flyin High" sounds like a hybrid of classic ZZ Top with AC/DC, and it actually works.
The slower blues ballads are nice, but a bit too frequent on the album and do slow the pacing down somewhat. But the focus and strength of this band was always when they were willing to attack a straightforward rocker, such as "Consumption." Overall, it's great to have these guys back, and "La Futura" represents a nice comeback from a band who many thought were past their prime.
on September 11, 2012
DIE HARD fans of the Lil' Ol' Band from Texas will want to save their pesos and get the COMPLETE La Futura album available exclusively from BestBuy. The BestBuy exclusive contains two additional tracks "Drive By Lover" and "Threshold", featuring the music of Texas Guitar Hall of Famer Van Wilks!
on September 17, 2012
What's tough for me about reviewing a new ZZ Top record is comparing it to the classic sound of their 70's records. I'm talking Rio Grande Mud, Tres Hombres, etc... Don't get me wrong. I totally respect ZZ Top, and other classic rock era artists for heading in new musical directions. As musicians, it would be stifling, I think, to continue producing the same sound over and over. Most good musicians (ZZ Top being in that category) are constantly influenced by an eclectic array of music. Guitarist Billy Gibbons (one of the best ever) hasn't shied away from his love of not only blues, and rock, but of Disco, reggae, etc... In addition, the band seems to be constantly striving to (at the very least, give a nod to the old), but push the boundries of experimenation, as well. All of this garners my utmost respect, but there are some mixed feelings on behalf of long time fans.
One thing that doesn't help, is the press (not sure who's responsible) that's been out there prior to several ZZ Top releases over the years. I can't count the times i've heard the following: "If you like "Tres Hombres", you are really going to like their upcoming release". The truth is: ZZ Top hasn't released anything that sounds like their 70's stuff since, "well", the 70's. I'm sure the advance press is designed to pump up record buyers, but if it's not true, why do this to the fans ?? Just be honest, and call it like it is. They have certainly marketed "La Futura" in this way, and while their is a hint here and there of the past, it's buried in what I call " That Fuzzy Guitar Sound". If Billy Gibbons likes that sound (obviously he does) I say go for it. Who am I to tell Billy Gibbons ( a protege of Jimi Hendrix) what to do; but personally, I want to hear the man tear it up, which he's even more capable of doing now.
So, here's the skinny: I like the new record. It's the best they've done in a while. Alot of the stuff they've released since "Recycler" has been a disapointment, although I did like "Rhythmeen". This new one gets them back on course a bit. There are more blatant nods to the past, but they still can't seem to get away from that (here we go again) "Fuzzy Guitar Sound", but the tunes are solid. You can purchase a special edition album version which includes some additional tunes that won't be on the regular release. I listened to those on a Rock and Roll Website last week. What's strange about the extra tracks is that they actually (in my opinion) are better than most of the tracks on the regular release, they rock, and are much more in line with sounding closer to what a fan of 70's ZZ Top might like. Go figure?? Maybe the band should decide to make the new tunes part of the regular release, as well. At least this way, fans who read the press about comparisons to "Tres Hombres" won't be completely dissapointed.
on October 25, 2012
La Futura was a long time coming; nine years from 2003's Mescalero to the 2012 release of this latest disc. They had released some box sets and at least one very good must-see DVD in "Live from Texas", but the new disc was nearly unexpected. I think that many of us had given up; we hadn't even checked up on 'Top after a few years of airplay silence. It was also not without much trepidation that I purchased the disc (yes; I do hard copies, only) after only hearing one tune on Leno. All too often I have gotten excited about an old-school rocker only to get the disc and get downright depressed; their energy had gone, they were picking at a set of bones so bereft of fresh ideas as to present me with a fairly high-dollar coaster (or BB target, depends upon how bad...) in a nice jewel case with some photo-shopped artwork. Very happily not so with ZZ Top's La Futura. Most of the tunes ooze with the boogie-based gritty and gutsy experiential, no-nonsense energy that Top fixed us up with from the beginning. Not as thick and heavy as Rhythmeen and not as synthesizer stuffed as Eliminator, La Futura has its own energy and mood, as do most ZZ Top discs. There are a couple of surprises in slower, sweeter ballad-like tunes that I didn't think I'd like, until I found them stuck in my head! The bulk is that raunchy boogie that I have come to crave, and this fix was long overdue!
on September 13, 2012
I've always loved ZZ Top and it's great to hear them getting back to their roots. This is a true return to the days of Fandango and Deguello - not saying it sounds exactly like those albums, but the songwriting has the feel of the good old days with the benefit of todays sound production technology. Amazing album, best in years!! And do get the Best Buy version, the two bonus tracks are not to be missed.
on January 22, 2013
I've been listening to these guys for more than forty years and must say that this is one of their better efforts. ZZ Top records always sound like ZZ Top but some seem to "have it" and some don't. This album feels more like it "has it" than not, both in the songwriting and performance departments. Besides, it has been so long since there has been new ZZT anybody who basically likes this band will like this in a big way.
on September 15, 2012
Well first of all it is absolutely terrific that ZZ Top has released a new cd after almost nine years of laying low (at least in the recording studio). A new ZZ Top recording is reason enough to celebrate. For those of us who remember seeing them when the beards were just starting to grow and have remained with them for the enitre ride, we welcome any further proof of that signature sound, the song writing skills and above all, that Texas boogie, blues/rock musicianship. La Futura, however, is a mixed bag at best.
Their previous cd, Mescalero, contained 16 songs and while not critically acclaimed was in my humble opinion their strongest showing in many, many years. So now we have La Futura nine years later and containing ten new songs (12 if you purchase the cd through Best Buy). That's a little bit better than one new song written PER YEAR. Couple that with the fact that these guys play virtually nothing new LIVE and you have a band that's relying heavily on the past while trying to figure out what "The Future" holds or even means to them.
Given the "ingrediants" that went into the making of this cd (time, a critically acclaimed producer, time and more time) we should have had our ears bar-b-qued by this cd. Instead we get a few very good songs, some sporadic inspired playing and, surprisingly, a couple of songs that don't even seem to know how to end. Are you kidding me?
This week ZZ Top performed live in NYC. Perfect opportunity to unleash a batch of new songs on their adoring fans. No such luck. One, yes one new song from La Futura was in the set. What does that tell you about their own confidence in the new material?
Last summer I saw them LIVE (for probably the 7th or 8th time going back to the Tres Hombres tour) hoping to hear something, ANYTHING from their most recent 3 or 4 releases. NOTHING. Just the same ol' same ol'. That little ol' band (from tejas) plays those same ol' songs (from tejas) over and over again. Why even bother writing new material Mr. Gibbons if you're not going to bring it?
La Futura has its strong musical moments and may have delayed ZZ Top from becoming nothing more than a glorified Vegas lounge act, but boy, if this is what "La Futura" holds, then it looks kinda bleak to this long time fan.
on October 3, 2012
I wish Rolling Stone would make a bigger deal out of ZZ Top's return to form. This CD has been out for two weeks and deserves more than a one paragraph review. Amazon on the other hand has plenty of user reviews and they look very positive.
Here is mine:
Gotsta Get Paid is the best single of the year, it's a cover song of a rap tune from the 90's (kinda) but ZZ completely reworked the song into a rock tune with some serious swagger. I never knew that empty bic lighters were for transporting crack cocaine on the street. Guess Billy is more gangsta than I am.
The Gillian Welch cover may be the best thing on the CD "It's Too Easy" with the slow burn and solo that almost drops out of the beat in a cool way. A close second is Heartache In Blue with a killer harmonica that sounds like it belongs on side 2 of Fandango. Billy gives us a great soul STAX style in "Over You" and "I Don't Wanna Lose Lose you" (with a list of characters ala Lowdown In The Street) should be the second single rather than the one weak track (Flyin High). Actually "Big Shiny Nine" would be the better single but it's about guns or sex (or maybe both...there is something dirty going on in this song for sure) and may not make the rock radio standards. Is he packin heat, grabin' his thing or his girl or all three?
Have Mercy has some nods to previous ZZ Top songs with the "I Thank You" riff in the intro and the "Have Mercy Miss Percy" in the chorus. The best part is that they turn it into a slow burn for the outro.
Chartreuse is a cool boogie that reminds us that Billy still likes big butts and he can not lie "Chocolate Mousse, don't cha know I like a big caboose" It morphs into Consumption that sounds like a stoned version of Chartreuse (same key but slightly slower and..um.. stonier)
4 stars and not 5 just because Dusty does not sing a lead.
The Best Buy version has two extra songs, one WITH Dusty on lead vocals. It's not his best song,but it's good to hear his voice. The other Best Buy only track is VERY good!