Album: Los Lobos

The Ride, Mammoth / Hollywood
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The Independent Culture

On any given day, Los Lobos are one of the best live bands on the planet, guaranteed to provide a good time whatever the circumstances. Blessed with an embarrassment of musical riches, their versatility shames more famous ensembles, as they range across the entire breadth of American music (North and South) with an easy command that reflects the group's longevity. As it says in the CD booklet to The Ride, "Los Lobos still are Louie Perez, Cesar Rosas, Conrad Lozano, David Hidalgo and Steve Berlin" - exactly the same line-up that formed the group in the Seventies. Perhaps that's why this album, showcasing collaborations with various heavy friends, doesn't present them in quite their best light. Although it's good to hear them with the likes of Tom Waits, Richard Thompson, Ruben Blades and Elvis Costello, it's as if, in trying to accommodate their guests, they've misplaced something vital of their own. Not that it's a bad album: Dave Alvin's warm, moody baritone blends well with Hidalgo's tenor o

On any given day, Los Lobos are one of the best live bands on the planet, guaranteed to provide a good time whatever the circumstances. Blessed with an embarrassment of musical riches, their versatility shames more famous ensembles, as they range across the entire breadth of American music (North and South) with an easy command that reflects the group's longevity. As it says in the CD booklet to The Ride, "Los Lobos still are Louie Perez, Cesar Rosas, Conrad Lozano, David Hidalgo and Steve Berlin" - exactly the same line-up that formed the group in the Seventies. Perhaps that's why this album, showcasing collaborations with various heavy friends, doesn't present them in quite their best light. Although it's good to hear them with the likes of Tom Waits, Richard Thompson, Ruben Blades and Elvis Costello, it's as if, in trying to accommodate their guests, they've misplaced something vital of their own. Not that it's a bad album: Dave Alvin's warm, moody baritone blends well with Hidalgo's tenor on the country-rocker "Somewhere in Time", Bobby Womack skilfully steers "Wicked Rain" into his own ghetto-poet territory, and Mavis Staples smoulders beautifully over the Willie Mitchell-style funk-soul groove of "Someday"; but overall, The Ride doesn't have quite the panache we've been led to expect.

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