Wednesday, January 9, 2013

ZZ Top La Futura Peer Review

ZZ Top - La Futura

Three Guys, two beards, one mustache on a guy whose name is ironically beard. Southern rock representing the great state of Texas.  Sleeping Bag, Planet Of Women, Tush, Rough Boy, Sharp Dressed Man and of course Legs.  Does this sound familiar to you?  Unless you have been living in a cave or in cabin with no electricity for 30 years, you know ZZ Top.  ZZ Top are responsible for the songs above and many other in a career that is fast approaching 40 years of hard rocking blues riffs. 

Guitarist Billy Gibbons teamed up with THE Rick Rubin to deliver ZZ Top’s 15th studio album, Futura in 2012.  There is a lot of good on this album, though, I can’t say that it ranks as high to me as their earlier albums.  

The album opens with the hard rocker I gotsa get paid, a good time song, which gives the feeling that the band is just warming up.  Track after track, you get what you expect with this album, which is the voice and the riffs that made ZZ Top famous with big crashing drums in the background keeping the timing on the edge of controlled chaos.  The bass guitar provided by Dusty Hill is huge and driving, adding a heaviness that Gibbons guitar playing just doesn’t approach.  

Almost every album has at least one misstep and in this case, the misstep is an attempt a a ballad.  I’ve never been a fan of ZZ Top’s ballads.  Rough Boy gets skipped whenever it plays on any album or compilation.  Its just difficult listening to a band try to play something they are not capable of doing well.  The ballad on La Futura is called over you.  While musically, it feels like a 1960’s lament on lost love, Gibbon’s voice is unforgivably bad in the track.  He applies the gruffness that he does on all other songs.  In this case it feels forced.  This would be a great track for a guest artist to add vocals too.  Let Gibbons play the music that he is more adept at.  He knows how to throw a party.  He doesn’t have a clue how to sing about a broken heart and make the audience believe that there’s any pain in his voice.  This is forgivable, however because it’s the only low point to the album. 

Overall, the album is good.  I wouldn’t go so far as to call it great.  The riffs are solid, the bass is heavy, drums driving and solid, and of course Gibbon’s voice is timeless, but after 15 albums, there is not much here lyrically that can’t be found on other albums only done better. 

I would pick this one up and enjoy the ride, just don’t expect any life changing moments.  These guys have their share of them, changing the face of rock and roll a time or three themselves, but they have turned out an album that is better than 90% of the other musical offerings this year.

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