I’ll admit, I’ve been a frustrated Los Lobos fan for years. Frustrated by my friends. “Los Lobos? That ‘La Bamba’ cover band? That’s, like, Latin rock, right?”
Um, right. The kind of Latin rock that ranges from Mexican folk to earthy Americana to gritty blues to tape-looped Alternative. The kind that attracts T Bone Burnett to produce a band’s first three major-label albums. The kind that features some of the most intelligent combinations of music and word craft, ruminating on everything from love, to socio-economic issues, to community and ethnicity, to the Gospel and existential questions. The kind that features one of the most sought-after session guitarists (Hidalgo) and one of the strongest and most distinctive voices this side of Jay Farrar and Johnny Cash (Rosas). The kind that reinvents itself under Mitchell Froom to produce one of the most sonically creative, well balanced and wholly satisfying albums in modern rock (Kiko). Yes, and U2 is, like, Irish rock.
With the all-star lineup of contributors, The Ride just may garner the most attention for the band since “La Bamba.” It’s long overdue and well deserved, and not just on the basis of their history or the new collaborations. The Ride showcases a band that only 30 years of seasoning can produce. It stands alongside their best work. It doesn’t peak as high as some of their previous work, but it maintains an indefatigable excellence throughout. Highlights include the meshing of the band’s “Wicked Rain” with Womack’s “Across 110th Street,” Tom Waits and Quetzal’s Martha Gonzales on the bizarre “Kitate,” and Mavis Staples on “Someday.”
Pick up The Ride for the guests; then track down the band’s back catalog