Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
Genres: Country, Pop, Rock
After hitting a creative peak in the early '90s, Los Lobos settled into a decade-long groove that was perhaps a little too comfortable. The band's twelfth studio CD, The Ride, tries to shake things up a bit, and mostly suc... more »
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After hitting a creative peak in the early '90s, Los Lobos settled into a decade-long groove that was perhaps a little too comfortable. The band's twelfth studio CD, The Ride, tries to shake things up a bit, and mostly succeeds by pairing the group with a string of collaborators similar to Carlos Santana's Supernatural. Only instead of the young hit-makers that propelled Santana's comeback, The Ride matches Los Lobos with early influences (Bobby Womack, Little Willie G) and long-time friends (Dave Alvin, Elvis Costello). The experimentalism that fueled 1992's Kiko can be found here on a couple of tracks--most notably "Kitate," a deliriously wiggy collaboration with Tom Waits and Martha Gonzales of Quetzal--but generally the focus is on blues, soul, and roots rock. Surprisingly, some of the strongest performances are new versions of songs previously recorded by Lobos: Costello helps the band re-invent "Matter of Time" as a piano and pedal-steel guitar ballad; Mavis Staples turns the folk-blues lament of "Someday" into rousing Stax soul/gospel; and Womack segues effortlessly from "Wicked Rain" into his '70s blaxploitation classic, "Across 110th Street." Of the newer material, the band shines brightest on "La Venganza de Los Pelados," a Latin dance workout with Café Tacuba, and the bluesy soul of "Chains of Love," which shreds 12-bar formula by including a 90-second violin solo. The latter is a tribute to '50s rock & rollers Don and Dewey, proving that the best road to the future is sometimes paved by revisiting the distant past. --Keith Moerer
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One of the most uniquely original bands....ever!
John B. Prior | New Port Richey, FL | 04/06/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I must confess that I've been having one hell of a time trying to figure out which cd by these guys I should review. I own them all, and I find them all wonderful. I might be enjoying a distinct advantage over most people who don't own everything by Los Lobos, and I realize I'm also a bit biased because I love their material so much. To truly appreciate what these five guys do, have done, and are capable of, you'd simply have to be familiar with the band's entire catalog. Nobody is this diverse, and I'll stick my neck out here and make a brazenly heartfelt statement for the record.....Los Lobos is the most talented and engaging band in America.
They are also, at the same time, the most sadly underappreciated band of note that I can think of. You mention Los Lobos to most people and you'll either receive a blank stare in return, or get a response to the effect of, "oh yeah.....those guys who did "La Bamba" way back when....are they still around?" Makes my blood boil sometimes.....
But I digress. For those of us who are "in the know" concerning this fine band, we can take some solace in our enjoyment of one of the best kept secrets in music today. Based purely upon musical diversity, these guys are hella talented. Everything from traditional Mexican folk, blues, jazz, soul, rock, r&b, zydeco, middle eastern, to gospel is covered within The Wolves body of recorded music. These brilliant musicians have the heart, soul, and conviction to deliver all of the above with utmost style and unflinching adherence to what they ably achieve as a band, having performed together for the past thirty-plus years. It's obvious that David, Cesar, Conrad, Louie, and Steve have much respect for eachother on many levels, accomplishing what they have, and they still seem to love working together.... truly top-class professionals!
The reason I chose "The Ride", I suppose, is that it's basically their most recent release, and the one I've probably listened to the most over the past year. The boys saw fit to honor their respected musical contemporaries and influences alike with "The Ride", resulting in yet another totally unique piece to add to their catalog. I'll venture a guess that Los Lobos enjoyed making this record more than any other they've done. The talents and vocals of Ruben Blades, Bobby Womack, Elvis Costello, Richard Thompson, Tom Waits, and Mexico's Cafe Tacuba all feature prominently throughout "The Ride", and, in and of itself, lend this particular cd even more varied styles and sounds than we are accustomed to with a "typical" Los Lobos release. What's more, the band clearly had lots of fun with this experience and it comes through vibrantly in the end results.
Personal highlights on this disc, for me anyway, include the gospel-tinged beauty "Matter Of Time", which showcases fine vocal harmonizing by Elvis Costello and David Hidalgo. Richard Thompson figures in with "The Wreck Of The Carlos Rey", which for some reason reminds me of something from Fleetwood Mac's old "Bare Trees" album. It's catchy, bouncy and bluesy all at the same time......rather hard to describe. The drumming on this track is insanely good, really driving the entire thing. The track, "Is This All There Is?" is one of two Los Lobos compositions reworked from earlier records. This one had orginally appeared on 1987's "By The Light Of The Moon", and while I like the original a bit better(it's catchy as hell!), this new version features Little Willy G belting out a soulful reading of a new arrangement of the song. 1992's "Kiko" gets represented by Bobby Womack basically going crazy in a good way on "Wicked Rain", paired up with his own "Across 110th Street". These two songs really got a great treatment, as they blended very very well into a new arrangement. The original "Wicked Rain" was a great blues rocker, to be sure, but Womack's influence gives the song new life with a sensational blend of r&b and jazz. Guaranteed to get your toe tapping when cranked up!
As I said, a good time was obviously had between all musicians, and I'm sure Los Lobos will always treasure the experience of making this record with such great company. My personal favorite moments, however, come in the four tracks on "The Ride" in which the five Wolves did their own thing, sans guest appearances. Cesar Rosas' down and dirty blues, "Charmed", just plain rocks out. Man these guys are tight! Steve Berlin's sax intertwines with wicked blues guitar and piano, and Cesar's voice is just incredible for this type of song. Wow! I've got it blasting as I'm writing this, so forgive me for my pedestrian attempts at trying to convey this song's power through words.
"Rita", the final song I'll mention, is for me, quite literally the title track to "The Ride". It is a gentle, somewhat brooding cut, with perhaps the best lap steel playing I've ever heard. The reason I consider this the title track is simply due to the imagery the music, and especially the steel guitar, seem to emulate, in likeness to the beautiful sleeve photograph of the guys walking in procession with their instruments in tow through the arid landscape of what I'm assuming is a Southern California desert. Hidalgo's vocals are emotive as ever here, and the song conveys a warmth and open air feel to it that's just stunning!
It would be hard for me to singularly recommend any one Los Lobos cd for one's first purchase. They are so diverse, coupled with my glaringly obvious appreciation of everything they do, that my only suggestion would be to sample what you can, album by album. See what strikes you first and try it out. These little snippets of songs that we have at our disposal, courtesy of Amazon, are a good start. I'm not certain "The Ride" would be the best album to start with to become familiar with these guys, but for those Lobos fans out there who haven't heard this yet.....go get er!
"The Ride" is a blast of an album from a truly original American band!"
I'm sorry I waited so long to buy this CD...
M. Bartolone | New Orleans, LA | 02/21/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I was really blown away when I first listened to it, and even though my enthusiasm has been tempered a little after a few listens, this is still a great CD. Judging by the tone of some of the reviews below, LL is suffering from that problem truly genius artists have - once you release a few ground-breaking records, if you stay at that level people will say you're lazy and complacent. I personally think it's OK that they have brought some more outstanding music into the world, even if it isn't light years ahead of their past efforts. Every track is solid and a good listen. For me Dave Alvin's baritone bossonova on "Somwhere in Time" and the moody reverb on "Wreck of the Carlos Rey" really stand out."
True American Music at its Best
Thomas Mcguire | Missoula, MT USA | 10/13/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The Ride is one of those albums that you cannot just listen to once to appreciate. Each time I listen to it, I like it more and more. "Rita" is a gem, a great accoustic classic accented with some very subtle pedal steel. Remakes of Someday (beautiful vocals by Marla Staples), Wicked Rain and Is This all There Is, are superb. This band can play and write songs with the very best of them. One of the great, yet woefully underappreciated bands of our time."