REVIEW: ZZ Top – La Futura (Best Buy edition, 2 bonus tracks)

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ZZ TOP – La Futura (2012 Best Buy edition, 2 bonus tracks, American Recordings)

Unfortunately I didn’t get this album until January of 2013.  As such, it didn’t make my Top Five of 2012 list.  If I had got it sooner, would it have made the list?  Probably.  It did make lots of lists.  It made Every Record’s top 10 of 2012, and regular LeBrain reader Deke’s list for example.

I love this album.  I’ve played it every day since I got it!  From mournful ZZ blues (“Over You”) to skunky funky ZZ blues (“I Gotsta Get Paid”) to trademark anthemic ZZ rock (“Flyin’ High”), this album has pretty much everything I love from ZZ Top!

I first heard the single, the aforementioned “I Gotsta Get Paid” (a rewrite of a rap song called “25 Lighters” by somebody named DJ DMD) on the Mandy Grant Show, on 107.5 Dave FM.  I fell for it immediately, but I was wary of buying the album at first.  After all, most ZZ discs since Eliminator and even Afterburner didn’t do too much for me, even though they all have tunes worth putting on a road tape.  Maybe the difference is that, on La Futura, ZZ Top are working with Rick Rubin?  Or maybe it’s that they haven’t recorded a studio album in almost a decade?  I don’t know, except to say that ZZ Top absolutely nail it on La Futura.

The overall sound is both slick and dirty at once, a balance that they haven’t always hit in the past.  Frank Beard’s drums sound absolutely perfect, the way you want a real drum kit to sound, no goofy samples here!  Of course, the Reverend Billy F. Gibbons’ guitars are always greasy goodness, and full of dirty soul.  What sets this album apart is a rediscovered ability to write memorable, catchy blues rock songs.  “I Don’t Wanna Lose, Lose, You” is a perfect example of the kind of rock tune that ZZ Top are known for, groovy and instantly memorable.  “Chartreuse” and “Consumption” are the same, just awesomely great Top tunes as memorable as some of their best from the days of yore.  “It’s Too Easy Mañana” is a perfectly bluesy mess of guitars, bass and drums, while “Big Shiny Nine” is another trademark upbeat Top rocker.

My favourite song, that I keep coming back to, and can’t get out of my head, is “Flyin’ High”.  It’s just an awesome song, melodic as hell, and worthy of single status.  That’s my pick for second single right there.  What a riff, what a song!  Back in ’83, this would have been a smash hit.

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I shelled out for the US Best Buy edition, which has two bonus tracks.  Shipping and taxes all-in, I paid $35 for “Threshold of a Breakdown” and “Drive By Lover”.  Both are great tunes, but it’s especially worth having “Drive By Lover” because it’s the only song on which bassist Dusty Hill takes the lead vocal.  I’ve always been a fan of bands that have two lead singers, and I’ve always liked Dusty’s voice.

My only beef is the packaging.  What you see is what you get:  A simple cardboard case, no booklet.  You get liner notes but no lyrics or anything else particularly special for buying a physical edition.  Too bad.

4.5/5 stars

Note:  The first four tracks were previous released on the iTunes only Texicali EP.  But if you prefer physical product, like I do, this is a no-brainer way to go!

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13 comments

  1. Totally agree with your review Mike,but that should come as no surprise right?!
    Yep I’ve been on this site preaching about this release since I became a regular a few months back…the total throwback in production is fantastic and like mike says about the production,dirty as in a bluesy kind of way…
    This is what they needed sure its not gonna come close in sales to there 80s output but you know what,for the people that have followed and bought there stuff ,La Futura makes up for the disappointments of past releases…..
    If it wasn’t for strong releases from Halen &Rush this would have easily been my fav of the yr.

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    1. Well thanks for consistently pushing this album on me Deke! I don’t regret paying $35 for the bonus tracks at all! It is great to see ZZ Top do a great comeback, something they were always capable of, but somehow missed the mark over these years!

      Thanks again!!!!

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  2. Mike no worries that’s what’s great about this site we all can give opinions and find out about other acts through your reviews.
    I knew you would dig La Futura…..
    Those ZZ fellas should be sending me some compensation for pushing there product all over this site!
    Hahahaha

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  3. This was one of favorite, unsung releases of 2012, as well. I have kinda rediscovered it in the early days of 2013! Likewise, Mike, the bare-bones packaging was a disappointment. I still buy ONLY physical product, and am disappointed that labels are forsaking us…

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    1. Thanks for your post Brian!

      If you check out my blog, you’ll see I’m just like you. I am all about physical product. It’s unfortunate that buying an album or single physically isn’t always an option anymore. The last two Def Lep singles are a good example.

      To me, packaging is a big deal, because it’s part of the reason we buy the physical CD. I would have preferred ZZ put more effort into that, especially since the Chrome Smoke & BBQ was such a dream for we who love the physical package!

      Cheers!

      Like

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