The last time these Texas boogie-rock veterans played the Beacon—almost exactly two years ago, as it happens—they declined to perform anything more recent than 1994’s “Pincushion,” according to The New York Times. That probably won’t be the case when guitarist Billy Gibbons, bassist Dusty Hill and drummer Frank Beard return to the Upper West Side tonight, mere hours after the release of La Futura, ZZ Top’s first new studio album since 2003’s Mescalero.
It’s the band’s long-promised collaboration with superproducer Rick Rubin, who specializes these days in restoring heritage musicians to the conditions of their salad years. And sure, there’s definitely some low-down roadhouse blues on La Futura, including the harmonica-enriched “Heartache in Blue” and “Chartreuse,” whose central riff comes audaciously close to the classic one in “Tush.” “Over You,” meanwhile, sounds like a tear-in-your-beer ballad as old as time itself.
Yet Rubin also seems to have pushed the band into fresh territory, as in opener “I Gotsta Get Paid,” which interpolates themes from the Houston hip-hop song “25 Lighters” and ultimately shares some rap-rock DNA with Jay-Z’s Rubin-produced “99 Problems.” Then again, maybe ZZ Top didn’t need Rubin’s help to get there: Before (or more likely after) the trio struts its new stuff at the Beacon, it’s sure to take the man-machine rhythms of “Legs” and “Sharp Dressed Man” for yet another spin.—Mikael Wood