La Futura (American)
Reviewed by Raoul Hernandez, Fri., Nov. 30, 2012
ZZ TopLa Futura (American)
Like the Beach Boys' diaphanous "That's Why God Made the Radio" this summer, "I Gotsta Get Paid" – sparking up ZZ Top's 15th album and first since 2003's prickly Mescalero – constitutes an instant indelible for the next essentials collection. La Futura has its crystal ball moments, all right. Produced by überconsultant Rick Rubin and the little ol' Houston trio's hard drive, Billy F. Gibbons, kickoff single "I Gotsta Get Paid," adapting a grunge-era DJ track from Bay City, sets a sonic template any blues band would gladly sell their hats and souls for. Imagine a steady stream of Texan SUVs running over the CD, vinyl record, or hell, even MP3s, in a gravel parking lot during a downpour before it finally decomposes. That's 21st century ZZ Top: the apex of grit. Team Top then takes that same idea – adaptation – and turns it on itself, copping the riff from "Tush" for "Chartreuse" ("you know I like a big caboose"). Damned if it doesn't work, too. As has been the habit following 1983's Eliminator and its underrated follow-up Afterburner, tone and tempo barely vary after that, "Consumption" a plodding dirge next that's deliciously one-note in accompanying its title. Even lower and slower rolls Gibbons' gruff but endearing ballad "Over You," Dusty Hill's harmony vocal for "Heartache in Blue" afterward only emphasizing the bassist's criminal underutilization throughout. La Futura crumbles into more of the exact same-y after that, whether it's the repetition of "I Don't Wanna Lose, Lose, You" or the dinosaur thud of "Flyin' High," which counter to its title might actually be reptilian and/or subaquatic. Also lacking are more BFG moments like the guitarist's spacey, at times woozy, solo on the brooding blues "It's Too Easy Mañana," which taps the band's ancient (early Seventies) past. By proper LP close, "Have a Little Mercy," another back catalog nod copped to by its title, ZZ Top has finally ground to a halt despite Dusty Hill getting his vocal licks in on closing bonus blow-off "Drive By Lover." Pass the purple drank.