ZZ Top inks deal with American Recordings

Rick Rubin will produce veteran rock trio's album

ZZ Top has signed a new record deal with Rick Rubin's American Recordings imprint through Columbia.

The veteran rock trio plans to hit the studio with Rubin producing, for an album more in keeping with "La Grange"-era ZZ Top than its pop-friendly '80s sound, according to manager Carl Stubner.

The band recorded for Warner Bros. for the first 20 years of its career before shifting to RCA in the mid-1990s. ZZ Top's last album, 2003's "Mescalero," has sold 103,000 copies in the U.S., according to Nielsen SoundScan.

Stubner, who began managing ZZ Top a year and a half ago, has worked to increase ZZ Top's visibility via an increased focus on licensing and TV appearances, including the finale of "American Idol" this spring.

"We thought this was a great brand that was kind of dusty," he said. "My goal was to polish it and do certain things they hadn't done before."

To that end, Eagle Rock this month released the first ZZ Top live DVD, "Live From Texas 2007," which debuts this week at No. 1 on Billboard's Top Music Video chart.

The band begins a European tour Friday in Oporto, Portugal, which will be followed by 18 co-headlining North American dates with Brooks & Dunn. In the fall, "our plan is to go do smaller theaters, like 3,000-seaters for a low-dough ticket price. Then we'll go finish the record."