Thursday, October 29, 2009

Disc of the Day: Los Lobos Goes Disney

Los Lobos remains one of the world's most gifted and most agile rock 'n' roots bands. For their first CD in three years, they tackle Disney tunes -- some well known, some not so familiar. Click here to go to my review in Las Vegas City Life, or read the text below:

Los Lobos
Los Lobos Goes Disney
(Disney Sound)

Los Lobos turns in a kids-oriented album of Disney songs, releases it on a Disney label, and prepares to play a Disney park. Have the world's finest and still engaging purveyors of East L.A. roots rock, blues and traditional Mexican music been co-opted by the Mouse? Or is the band secretly subverting songs aimed at children?

Neither, really. Los Lobos, who contributed "I Wan'na Be Like You" to Stay Awake, Hal Willner's 1989 Disney compilation (a new, slower-grooving version is here) and did a full children's album in 1995, is simply having its way with awfully familiar material. A half-dozen are gems, sure to pop up in live sets: "Cruella De Vil" swaggers on R&B laced with bent-note guitar runs, while "The Bare Necessities" might be straight from Cajun country, and Jerry Garcia is the guiding light for an ambling, extremely laidback "Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah."

Surprises? Try a poignant, slow-mo reading of Randy Newman's "I Will Go Sailing No More" (from "Toy Story") over flickering guitar, a similarly chilled reading of Roger Miller's "Not in Nottingham" (from "Robin Hood"), or the overdriven six-string crunch of "The Ugly Bug Ball" (from "Summer Magic"). Yet again, it's all tasty, artful Americana-plus from David Hidalgo, Louie Perez, Cesar Rosas and Co.

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