Nine years on from the spirited "Mescalero" ZZ Top have finally re-emerged, this time with über-Producer Rick Rubin at the helm who, aside from his more obvious qualifications for this particular gig, looks for all the world like he could easily be a member of the band anyway,
Rubin never ventures too far from the established template. If anything he helps usher the band back to their earlier roots with a dirty, grinding, greasy, bluesy sound that whilst never less than respectful of their
previous highs still manages to bring things bang up to date.
There are some surprises, prominent among them "I Gotsta Get Paid", a grungy re-working of a 1990s hip-hop track denoting the ups and downs of a Texan drug dealer's life, reimagined in typical lazy mid-paced fashion. ZZ Top don't seem in too much of a hurry to do anything these days, witness the length of time it reportedly took them in the studio this time; over three years which, given the nature of what it is they actually do and how they do it, is surprising to say the least.
Rubin really comes into his own on tracks like "Heartache In Blue" where guitars, rhythm section and harp coalesce effectively into a striking 21st century blues, whilst the band's penchant for innuendo is still alive and well, witness "Big Shiny Nine", a companion piece - if you like - to "I Got The Six" off their breakthrough album "Eliminator".
The compulsory ballad "Over You" owes more than a passing nod to "Sure Got Cold After The Rain Fell", and elsewhere there are other echoes of earlier works, perhaps unsurprising after so many decades in the saddle.
But, somehow, aided and abetted by the estimable Mr Rubin these undisputed masters of three-chord rock have still summoned up the energy, vitality and creativity to create another winning album that more than holds its own with the best that this trio has produced since those distant heady days of the 1980s.