ZZ Top Signs to Rick Rubin's American Recordings

ZZ Top: Still with the legs.

Rick Rubin was already working for ZZ Top - the Houston trio recently enlisted Rubin to produce its next album - and now ZZ Top works for Rubin as well. Billboard reported yesterday that ZZ Top has signed a new record deal with Rubin's American Recordings, an imprint distributed by Columbia Records (aka Sony).

Manager Eric Stubner, who has handled ZZ Top's affairs for a year and a half, told Billboard the record will return to the hard-boogie sound of hits like "La Grange" that first brought the "Lil' Ol' Band from Texas" to national prominence.

"The hope is that with Rubin's guidance, the band can enjoy a commercial and critical revitalization along the lines of prior Rubin clients Johnny Cash and Neil Diamond," reports Jonathan Cohen.

ZZ Top released its first-ever concert DVD, Live In Texas (recorded last year in Dallas... dammit), last week as part of Stubner's campaign to revitalize the band's image, which also included an appearance on the American Idol finale in May.

"We thought this was a great brand that was kind of dusty," Stubner told Billboard, completely oblivious to the terrible pun he just made on one of the trio's names. The article quotes the SoundScan sales figures of ZZ Top's last album, 2003's Mescalero, at 103,000 copies.

In related ZZ Top news, Rhino Records will release an expanded version of 1983's Eliminator next month, celebrating the multiplatinum album's 25th anniversary with several live bonus tracks and a DVD of the album's groundbreaking videos and five songs performed live on the popular UK TV show The Tube. Christ, has it really been that long?

We're still waiting on our review copy of Live in Texas, which debuted at No. 1 on Billboard's Music Video chart this week, so in honor of ZZ Top's new/old direction, here's something else from Tres Hombres besides "La Grange." Don't ask me where the beards went, 'cause I don't know. - Chris Gray

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