First Appeared in The Music Box, June 2004, Volume 11, #6
Written by John Metzger
Under normal circumstances, star-studded efforts should be met with a healthy dose of skepticism, but then again Los Lobos is far from being an ordinary band. Not only did the group survive the turning of its eleventh studio outing The Ride into a guest-laden affair, but it also succeeded brilliantly despite committing the other cardinal sin of rock ínĎ roll by remaking several of its old chestnuts. In fact, in an unusual twist of fate, the songs on which Los Lobos is left to its own devices are among the weaker moments of the collection, although none fully falls flat. Even so, itís on the many collaborative efforts that the band surprisingly gains the most traction as Mavis Staples unleashes a rousing Stax soul re-invention of Someday that is positively exhilarating, and Elvis Costello delivers a passionate vocal performance on Matter of Time that recasts the tune in an entirely new light. Elsewhere, Los Lobos, Cafť Tacuba, and The Bandís Garth Hudson combine forces to magically traverse the psychedelically serpentine grooves of La Venganza de Los Pelados; Tom Waits and Quetzalís Martha Gonzalez help to turn Kitate into a delightful slice of experimental strangeness; and Richard Thompson masterfully underscores the driving Wreck of the Carlos Rey with his heady guitar licks. Yet, itís with two soul legends that Los Lobos crafts a pair of fresh masterpieces out of already superb material, offering a blissfully funky reinterpretation of Is This All There Is? with Thee Midnitersí Little Willie G. and a powerfully seamless fusion of Wicked Rain and Across 110th Street with Bobby Womack. Indeed, while The Ride isnít quite the flawlessly cohesive recording that both This Time and Good Morning AztlŠn were, it still is a remarkable endeavor, one that perfectly encapsulates Los Lobosí stylistically varied career in all its resplendent glory.
Of Further Interest...
The Ride is available from Barnes & Noble.
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2004 The Music Box