How have this band of East LA wolves not only survived but thrived in the hostile midlands of popular music for 30 years? Perhaps the answer lies in their mid-career decision to embrace their Chicano cultural birthright to the laidback life, even when they’re rocking as hard as any Chicago blues band. Although they briefly tried to follow up the Springsteen-esque border-life anthems of their 1984 debut album, in the end they stepped back to roam through a heritage that runs from straight rock to corridos to ’60s-style pop to classic covers (not just “La Bamba”) to hallucinatory yet earthy memories of childhood that stand as their own gift to every American’s rock-and-roll heritage. So casual and basic is their command that this first-ever single-disc retrospective might at first feel too easy, too simple (nothing from the booming Colossal Head, no transcendent “Saint Behind the Glass”). But it honors the arc of their discography and captures the essence of their achievement through 20 tracks that transcend the “roots rock” label as surely as The Best of Creedence Clearwater Revival.
On the Web
Los Lobos: http://www.loslobos.org/site/