Wednesday, June 02, 2004

Hund on Lobos

"Dr. Hund," like me, a frequent contributor to the No Depression Yahoo group tried to fit this long rambling rebuttal to my recent Los Lobos review into the comment section of this blog. It was way too long.

I couldn't resist posting the whole thing here.

You want interactive? YOU CAN'T HANDLE INTERACTIVE! Check out my scathing rebuttal (which could not fit on that mickey mouse blog):

Steve, you ignorant slut. You miss the whole point of this fun album.

It is not a tribute album, friar's roast, nor Chieftains Syndrome. Nor is Los Lobos getting lazy. The band members (especially Hidalgo & Perez) just like to expand their horizons, experiment (which gave us their best work so far in the Latin Playboys), and keep the music fresh. It's not like they are slackers in original album and song production. Even the old tunes here (totally re-invented and less than half the album) are fresh. And there is some great new writing from Hidalgo/Perez, both as their usual songwriting team and collaborated with others like Luis Torres, Dave Alvin, Tom Waits, and Ruben Blades. Cesar Rosas and Robert Hunter also wrote a song for this diverse album.

BTW...why do you have a blog? You are published constantly in the major New Mexican newspapers, beam a radio show, have a media chokehold on New Mexican politics, and are already all over the internet. By proxy, your words are constantly being delivered by
other Southwest power brokers. You even have your own phraseology that is now coined worldwide and borrowed by many, such as, "Green Chile Diplomacy", "Boomburbs", and "Car Wheels on a Gravel Road".

With New Mexico losing judges, politicos, writers, celebs, and other speak boxes like vanishing desert land – you are now the de facto voice of the entire region - albeit via a "Last Man Standing" scenario. You have more market penetration and exposure in New Mexico than Clear Channel. You need a blog like George W. needs another asshole.

Back to your review. Sure, sometimes its difficult if not impossible to hear Los Lobos on a few of these songs but I like how they gather so many all-star sounds in such an unselfish quest for a unique album recorded with friends which they may never have a shot at again. But make no mistake...there are plenty of new sounds from Los Lobos here within the generous 13 songs. The first song with Café Tacuba is a fun summer tour de force followed by "Rita", which is one of the best Los Lobos songs ever. Both of these are new.

It seems from your review, you like these songs plus "Charmed", "Hurry Tomorrow", "Chains of Love" , "Somewhere in Time," (which you describe as "a duet between David Hidalgo and Dave Alvin, featuring a Drifters/"Spanish Harlem" beat and Leisz's hypnotic steel, almost sounds like a latter-day Righteous Brothers tune with baritone Alvin as Bill Medley and Hidalgo as Bobby Hatfield"...isn't that cool?), the Waits track, "Kitate" (you say "sounds like something off one of the Latin Playboys' CDs. Like the music of that Lobos side project, this tune sounds like a surreal field recording from some Mexican or Central American street festival, with lots of percussion, horns and carnival organ. Waits scats and shams and growls in languages nobody speaks in a near call and response with Martha Gonzalez of the band Quetzal"....isn't that cool?), and the new version of "Wicked Rain" is sung by '70s soul man Bobby Womack, as a part of a medley with Womack's Blaxploitation movie title song, "Across 110th Street" , and "The Wreck of the Carlos Rey," featuring "Hidalgo trading verses with Thompson, is a rocking tune. But with its folk rock riffs and Thompson's guitar, it sounds like something right off a Thompson album -- even though it's written by Hidalgo and Louie Perez." This all sounds sweet and it is!

Terrell, I think you are just pissed with what you call "the one truly misguided song here" (one misguided song out of 13?!) is Elvis Costello's version of "Matter of Time." The best part of your review is this history of this song that you so compassionately describe:

"The song is a conversion between a Mexican man and his wife right before the man leaves her to go to the U.S. to seek a decent future. It's the story of this country and all its immigrants. `I'll send for you, baby in just a matter of time.'

"It's a moment full of tenderness and uncertainty. But in the original 1984 version on How Will the Wolf Survive, the rhythm is upbeat and Steve Berlin`s sax, is jaunty, giving a sense of optimism even when the singer wonders if he's just pursuing an empty dream.

"Costello's version is slow and maudlin. Pretty, yes. But it sounds like a sad dirge. The promise of a new life, which propelled the original version, is completely missing here."

Yes Terrell! They are totally different approaches and versions because of this. I think that was the point. And what the hell is a "dirge"? Is that Latin, Mr. Smarty Pants? You do brilliantly describe the original's "sense of optimism" in such a sad song – which is so typical of Latin music. Even the sad songs seem to have some happy vibe underneath. But Costello is no Latino and sings this slowly with a solo piano accompaniment - and it is much sadder than the original. It also brings new light to the words and the music.

Did you want a rehash here of the original that only Hidalgo and Berlin could deliver in such a way you described? I think you are still pissed at Costello for becoming Mr. Diana Krall. But Steve, I ask you this, have you seen her legs? And at least Elvis is not
pussy-whipped to the point that he could actually be dragged to a Styx concert...for instance.

As you Steve, I do prefer full throttle new Los Lobos (what I would really love is new Latin Playboys) song batches - but the guest list, fun, and hybrid sounds of The Ride makes more than a decent ride.

It is one of the best albums this year.

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