Houndog / Latin Playboys / Los Lobos / Cesar Rosas - Houndog / Dose / This Time / Soul Disguise
It's been three years since Los Lobos unleashed Colossal Head, a varied and brilliant record disguised as a veritable Mexicali rock and roll fusion party. Now, picking up where they left off, the Lobos have not only crafted a solid follow-up, they've graced the world with no fewer than three worthy side projects in anticipation of the new full-band effort.
This Time follows the new, exciting path the band beat on Head. A swirling haze of songs that ooze blues but can't really be labeled as such, cool mid-tempo grooves, and blistering guitar and sax, this cosmic mix is brought to life by five consummate musicians and the spaced-out, thick, perfect production of Mitchell Froom and Tchad Blake. As the band further integrates all the aspects of its sound, its roots, and its mind set, things grow more cohesive; it certainly makes sense that three of the album's eleven songs are sung in Spanish, the most on a Lobos record since the all-Español La Pistola y El Corazón more than 10 years ago. A "gotta celebrate to keep from cryin'" mentality pervades many of the songs, especially on the rousing closer, "Why We Wish"—"'Cause forever is way too long.../'Cause it's here today and then it's gone," in case you were wondering why.
The second Latin Playboys album, in which the Lobos' singer/guitarist/accordionist David Hidalgo and singer/percussionist Louie Pérez team with Froom and Blake, expands on some of the more date-it-be-said alternative-sounding tangents Los Lobos ends up on from time to time, with results that could best be described as cool. Houndog finds Hidalgo on a more stripped-down Tom Waitsy blues tip—the most subtle record of this bunch. The debut solo outing by Lobos singer/guitarist Cesar Rosas, Soul Disguise, is the most straightforward rock offering here, and while it never soars anywhere near the heights of his main band, it's no clunker, and fans will want it. This Time is an essential record of 1999. Those who lost track of these guys after La Bamba would do well to check out this album and being working backwards through the Lobos' catalog.
YEAH YEAH YEAH, 1999