Rating: 3 1/2 out of 5 stars
Always a bunch of snarky dudes, the first ZZ Top album in nine years has about as much to do with the titular future as Dusty and Billy’s scraggly beards and their furry guitars. It may have taken Rick Rubin to shake the sequencers out of their systems but he and the threesome whittled these 10 blues rockers down from 20 CDs worth of snippets and jams– a process that took four years—to return the Texas trio to their gritty roots. The time and effort pays off in more of the lean, mean boogie the band’s established fans have come to expect. So even if there aren’t any surprises except for the rearranged opening rap tune, and some of the riffs sound suspiciously recycled from older Top tunes, it’s great to hear them back in fighting form. Kudos also go to Gibbons for co-writing one track with Gillian Welch and David Rawlings. A few guitar overdubs is about all the concession to slickness you’ll hear with Gibbons sounding as whisky soaked, swampy and lecherous as anything from Tres Hombres and a batch of solid songs nearly worth the extended wait.