Los Lobos Goes Disney
First Appeared in The Music Box, May 2010, Volume 17, #5
Written by John Metzger
Thu May 13, 2010, 06:30 AM CDT
The notion of signing a long-term contract with Hollywood Records once seemed like a good idea to Los Lobos. With time, however, the group grew increasingly dissatisfied with the deal. Los Lobos just wasn’t receiving the kind of support that it deserved for its efforts. After years of underwhelming publicity campaigns, the outfit finally announced last summer that it had cut its ties to the company in order to foster a new relationship with Shout! Factory.
Most reports indicated that this decision was removed from Los Lobos’ hands. Still, the appearance of Los Lobos Goes Disney, a few months later, suggested that some backroom finagling might have made the band’s amicable departure from Disney’s clutches possible. Hollywood Records is, of course, owned by Disney, and Los Lobos’ latest set certainly has the aura of an album that was made in order to fulfill a contractual obligation.
The general premise behind Los Lobos Goes Disney is relatively straightforward: Throughout the set, Los Lobos interprets 14 songs from Disney’s catalogue, most of which were featured in the company’s blockbuster animated films. Naturally, these tunes aren’t necessarily well suited to Los Lobos’ style, so the success of Los Lobos Goes Disney largely is dependent upon the band’s ability to find a unique perspective for delivering this material.
Los Lobos has always had a knack for sculpting cohesive statements from an eclectic array of styles. Not surprisingly, then, Los Lobos Goes Disney gives the outfit an opportunity to showcase the diversity of its approach. Oo-De-Lally is a natural extension of the group’s countryfied Americana fare, while Bella Notte draws parallels between the song’s original reading in Italian and Los Lobos’ Latin American heritage. Elsewhere, The Ugly Bug Ball is filled with pure, rock ’n‘ roll exuberance, and Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah conjures the essence of a hazy, happy-go-lucky day in summer.
In each of these cases — as well as in most of the tracks on Los Lobos Goes Disney — Los Lobos didn’t make dramatic alterations to the songs’ melodies or arrangements. Instead, the outfit simply wrapped its arms around the familiar Disney versions, offering genuine — if not exactly groundbreaking — renditions of the material. The results are merely adequate, even if they are passively enjoyable.
In fact, there are only a few occasions when Los Lobos managed to escape from its constraints. These tunes not only serve as the highlights of Los Lobos Goes Disney, but they also help to frame the collection. Heigh-Ho, which opens the set, is taken at a brisk, nearly manic pace, while a pairing of When You Wish upon a Star and It’s a Small World veers from Ventures-style surf-rock into a raging polka. If only Los Lobos had treated the rest of the selections with the same level of irreverence, Los Lobos Goes Disney might have become an album that was worth placing alongside the other terrific efforts in its canon.
Of Further Interest...
Los Lobos Goes Disney 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!!
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