Interesting album,had it for a few days and i suspect its going to split the vote,i'm hedging at 3.5 stars at the moment.It most certainly aint a 5 star disc (in my humble opinion),why because it isnt as good as 'Tres Hombres',Deguello' or 'Tejas',it not got that quirkiness the made 'El Loco' such a dark horse and it sure aint 'Eliminator' so it wont be flying to platignum status any time soon.
So what has it got that makes me want to keep playing it? well if your'e a long term fan you'll recognise all the recycled licks and regurgitated riffs,so it not innovation,but dammit my foot taps and i keep smiling while its playin'.. so what is it? , I'll tell you what it is, its the passion's back,the soul is back,the funk is back,Rubin - love him or hate him has re-ignited the 'spark' in this band. There's a glorious groove about this disc with some beautiful lead guitar by Mr Gibbons, superbly supported by the backing of Hill and Beard(minimalistic playing and all the more welcome for it).Highlights certainly 'Over You','Heartache in Blue','I Dont Wanna Lose You' and 'Have a Little Mercy'.
It might be damning it with faint praise but it is easily the best ZZ Top disc since Eliminator(although Mescalero came close),having let it sink in over the last few days,i've warmed to it, so 3.5 stars potentially 4,,cant wait for the next one.
on 13 September 2012
I've been a fan of ZZ Top since I was 14. Even then Eliminator was 5 years old. It was the highly commercial sound of the band in this 80's era, especially with Afterburner that I loved. I had no interest at all in their back catalogue of 'blues'. I just wanted synthed-up over produced MTV bearded wonderment.
I recall being disappointed with my first listen of Recycler in 1990. As the follow-up to Afterburner I felt seriously let down with the lack of technological sounds.
Then it became my favourite album. The tunes were grittier, bluesier, but great. And you could hear the band play! It wasn't just Billy in a room with a guitar, a drum machine and a producer replacing Frank and Dusty.
A change of label to RCA brought us Antenna in 1994. It was hailed as a 'back to basics' return to form. There was some great stand-tracks like PCH, Breakaway, and Cherry Red. But it certainly lacked great tunes overall, and really wasn't the 'return to form' the critics suggested. That is assuming those critics were referring to the bands early days of Rio Grande Mud and Tres Hombres, which at this point I was going back on my original interest and realising what a fantastic trio these guys were!
And 'were' was the point. Because Rhythmeem in 96 was another turn for the worse in my new found love of bass, guitar, drums and a good melodic lyric. Instead (with the exception of the first single What's up With That) it was tuneless grungey filtered nonesence. And to me sounded more over-produced with crazy effects than Afterburner!
Then we had XXX in '99. Although it's in my collection, I'd rather not even think about it. I can't believe my favourite band would even issue this as an album. More effects, noises, yes there's guitar, but no songs! It was a joke!
Mescalero gave me hope in 2003, with some great tunes. 'Going so Good' is brilliant. Dusty's ''Piece" and 'Two ways to Play' is a great rock tune. Billy's voice is getting more gruff at this point, but it's to the albums credit. The grungry guitar remains, but there's more sing along melodies and real band playing sounds that have been lacking for some time again.
Now we've been waiting for 9 years for La Futura to drop. I was terrified it was going to be a huge dissapointment. But it's not.
I'm hoping it's not just Rick Rubin replacing career length producer Bill Ham that has made ZZ Top record their best album in 22 years, but if it is, thank you Rick! Every track is great. I don't skip a single one. The grungey non-melodic guitar is gone, and we're back to just great rocking blues tunes, with a very blatant 'live' sound of a band playing together. Real drums, real bass, very few studio effects. There's no tracks sung by Dusty, but Billy's raw croaky vocals work brilliantly on this fantastic album that isn't a Tres Hombres reworking, or even Eliminator. It takes all of ZZ Tops strengths over the last 41 years and delivers an album worth waiting for.
I'm a bit drunk writing this, hence the length! Plus it's my first ever review, but felt it had to be done. Although there are a few on here, there just aren't enough for how good it really is!
If you love classic old-school ZZ, Eliminator, or whatever. Just buy it. Get the beers in and love the tunes!
on 10 September 2012
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.
on 14 September 2012
I love the older pre eliminator albums which are all great, duff track here and there but generally all good.Eliminator trio of albums were okay, had some great tracks but more filler tracks than previous work. Everything since then has had the odd decent track and everything else was a fuzzy, mushy, overdriven noise and not up to standard. Personally I couldn't understand how they could be so good on one hand and so very bad on the other. Other people seem to like it though so might just be me but if you feel the same way I would encourage you to give this a try. If you love the older stuff this won't become your favourite album but it's a good reminder of why you loved them to start with while still remaining fresh.
Well now, reviewing ZZ Top is a little like pushing water up hill - difficult indeed, because they are either loved or hated - nothing in between and, to be pefectly honest, they do what THEY do like no other band current or previous to, so comparisons are pointless.
Ever since witnessing them in the UK at the early stages of their career, I have avidly followed what was once a straightforward blues band develop into what one can only refer to as a minimalistic blues rock combo with leanings towards the Hispanic lifestyle....but cool with a capital C they most certainly have now become - the irony being that whereas contemporaries have stuck rigidly in one genre or other and become old and tired, ZZ Top have created their own little niche and look as old (young) today as they did in the mid / late 70's when they produced their Tejas! and Deguello albums which established their Rip Van Winkle imagery and laid back dirty sound.
Is this really as good as their earlier material? Well, yes and no, for sure we are hearing the same riffs and chord sequences - but hell, man, this is rock royalty giving their fans just short of 40 minutes of rock and blues that cannot be obtained anywhere else - yes, Mr Gibbons' voice is getting a little ragged around the edges and the bass of Mr Hill is so sparse that you wonder whether he was in the same building when this set of tunes was recorded but it is all so ZZ Top - it is what it is and the world is, without doubt as far as I am concerned, a better place for it!
Favourites here are Consumption, Heartache in Blue, It's Too Easy Manana and Big Shiny Nine BUT the whole album is consistent which would point to the fact that Mr Rubin really instilled some fire in the bellies of messrs Gibbons, Hill & Beard
Onwards and upwards....can this be the start of more studio albums? Let's hope so!
on 2 March 2015
Great album from the bearded ones. Sound bang up to date in terms of a clean crisp production with great guitar sounds and tight drums and bass. Songs are all good too and this has been on heavy rotation in my car since I got it. I always thought their track on the From Dusk Til Dawn soundtrack (She's Just Killing Me) was the best thing they ever did but this album is full of tracks in that vein. If you like great down south blues rock, then this album is a must!
on 21 November 2012
I was a member of the ZZ Top Fan Club back in the early 80s and I saw them live at Donnington about '85. In many ways in the cold light of 2012 Eliminator (1983) was both a curse and a blessing for 'the little ol' band from Texas'. Up to that album the 'weird beards' had been more of a blues band than actual heavy rock/metal. That all changed with Eliminator and the success of a more 'metallic' edged ZZ seemed to make Billy Gibbons and co try for the rest of the 80s to emulate the sound and success of this multi-platinum hit album. Many fans (myself included) felt ZZ Top had rather 'lost their way' and with it their soul. So in the nineties, ZZ Top with albums like Recycler and the hugely underrated 'Rhythmeen' (check it out) seemed to return to their old more soulful, bluesy sound. Successive albums have continued to show this including 2003s excellent Mescalero. Fast forward nine years to 2012 and this album is more like a return to their classic 70s sound. If you liked Tres Hombres or Rio Grande Mud you should definitely like this. Finally for those with good hifis the sound which is I believe 'live in the studio' is fantastic, you can almost feel the heat from those EL34 valves!
on 16 December 2012
After one listening only, my first impression: thunderous bass and guitar, with unobtrusive drumming underpinning it all. Wonderfully expressive vocals from Billy, with his well-aged voice, supported well by Dusty's clearer pipes in the background. Most of the songs rock along in typical ZZ Top style, with one standout blues ballad that reminded me of Tres Hombres - still their best record.
For some 2012 will be remembered for the Olympics, for others a British man finally winning a tennis major will be the highlight, or perhaps a Brit finally winning the yellow shirt (Without illegal substances)at the Tour De France will be what sticks in the mind. But for those of us who love our classic rock 2012 might well be remembered as the year of the comeback album. Firstly, in February Van Halen gave us the album we thought they no longer had in them. Then in June along came Rush with Clockwork Angels just to show that they not only have not mellowed with age but improved. And now in September that L'il Old Band from Texas serve up this delicious concoction of classic blues rock.
As with Van Halen with 'Tatoo', we got an early taster of the album with the single and lead off track 'I Gotsa Get Paid'. The track is an interesting mix of their '70's sound and their Eliminator sound. Low down and dirty with a more modern edge thrown in every now and then to show that they still listen to what's going on around them. Then we have 'Chantreuse', straight out of the same mixing bowl that 'Tush' was produced in. 'Flyin High' has an AC/DC sound to the guitar along with a catchy as hell chorus, to be followed by 'It's Too Easy Manana' who's guitar progression sounds a little too close for comfort to 'The Boys From Alabama' by Drive By Truckers, you half expect Patterson Hood to break in and start telling us about crooked cops, but once it gets going it's ZZ all the way. Of course there is the obligatory slow blues track, 'Over You' the albums 'Rough Boy' but without the over production. And speaking of production, credit must go to Rick Rubin for managing to get these guys to do what Metallica did, get back to their roots. He really has encouraged them to dig deep into their back catalogue and pull out all the ingredients that made them a great band in the first place and throw them together again to produce classic Top.
So the gauntlet has been thrown down, three great bands showing that middle to old age is no barrier to producing great music. Aerosmith, it's up to you now to finish the year in style and make it a quartet of classic comeback albums.
on 4 October 2015
At least four stars, maybe five once I've listened more.
Good stuff from all three, much better than some of the other mid/late-career albums.
So far "Over You" and "It's too easy manana" are the standout tracks for me - very good indeed.