ZZ Top La Futura

ZZ TopLa Futura
With '70s rock back in vogue, thanks in no small part to Rolling Stone throwing all of its weight behind the Black Keys and that glorified cover band the Sheepdogs, the timing is ideal for one last stand by that little ol' band from Texas, ZZ Top. La Futura is the hirsute trio's first studio offering since a spate of fine, but mostly overlooked albums a decade ago. Since then, their influence has been strongly heard in everyone from Queens of the Stone Age to any pseudo-country boogie band one cares to name. As Messrs. Gibbons, Hill and Beard have aged, what they've lost in speed has been made up in raw strength, and the sheer thickness of the Rick Rubin co-produced La Futura is a far cry from the days of drum machines and spinning guitars. It also has a lot to do with Gibbons' growl now being as deep as his guitar tone. The only thing that's missing is the trademark double entendres (remember "Pearl Necklace?") and, in that respect, La Futura is surprisingly tame, with only opening track "I Gotsta Get Paid" showing any signs of the old bravado. But this is a different time, and perhaps even these guys are feeling the need to become respectable. Either way, it's a solid, long overdue return of one of America's great rock'n'roll bands. (American/Universal)