This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on August 15, 2002 2:00 PM. The previous post in this blog was That time again. The next post in this blog is Long live the Pioneer Post Office. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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Thursday, August 15, 2002

Now maybe everyone will be happy

When I last saw Los Lobos perform two years ago, I was disappointed. They shared the bill with two other acts, and they seemed to squander their shortened set. Rather than reach into their own huge songbook, they frittered away their time with long, loose, and pointless covers of Neil Young's "Down by the River" and Marvin Gaye's "What's Going On."

On the former number especially, the Lobos appeared to be sending out the message that they had grown tired of their own catalog and were now satisfied with faxing in some heavy-metal noodling. Don't get me wrong, a Los Lobos cover song can be electrifying -- I once felt a crowd nearly levitate when they surprised it in an encore with a note-perfect rendition of "Cinnamon Girl" -- but only after the audience has had a good taste of the group's own beautiful cross-cultural mix.

With this in mind, I am greatly enjoying the group's new album Good Morning Aztlan. Not only do these songs stand up exceptionally well on the stereo, but they will also provide excellent opportunities for David Hidalgo to flex his electric guitar muscles on stage. Several of the new numbers rock unabashedly. And when the band is ready to pay homage to late '60s-early '70s soul, Cesar Rojas can step up and do "The Word."

There's plenty more on this effort. "Luz de Mi Vida" is the first song in Spanglish that I will commit to memory. "Tony y Maria" is a chilling folk tale of the long road from Mexico to L.A. (and back). "Round & Round" concludes the disk with a dense soundscape of exquisite guitar work, and Hidalgo's impeccable, birdlike voice flying high above it all

The Cal-Mex influences that made Los Lobos famous drift in and out, but at heart this is a very appealing rock album. Turn it up, and congratulate "just another band from East L.A." on its continued musical growth.

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