Just Another Band From East L.A. - A Collection

Los Lobos

Slash / Warner Brothers Records, 2000


REVIEW BY: Sean McCarthy


It's a rarity for a band to last 20 some odd years. It's even more of a rarity when a band actually grows and shows no sign of contentment. And for a band that's only a few years shy of an induction for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Los Lobos is one of the few potential inductees who may still have a potential classic of an album up their sleeve.

For starter fans (at least the ones who know that the band is far more capable than a mean cover of "La Bamba"), Just Another Band From East L.A.-A Collection can almost be qualified as an essential purchase. For a double disc, the "best of" collection packs little to no filler. And it showcases a band who has always been willing to let the sounds of blues, rock and soul work their way into their music while remaining true to the sounds of their Latino heritage.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

The first disc consists mainly of their early days (late '70s tomid '80s). The gritty, bluesy sounds of "Shakin' Shakin' Shakes" and"Will The Wolf Survive?" showcase a band who was more at home tearing down the walls of a club rather than playing stadium shows. Little has been said about the strong spiritual currents in their songs, but it is more than showcased in songs like "Tears Of God" and "The Neighborhood," which is basically a blues-fueled prayer.

As good as the first disc is, I'm beginning to wear grooves in the CD for the second disc. Basically, the two CDs are in chronological order, so the band's later period is obviously the focus on the second disc. Though their sound became more polished, they also freed themselves up to actually refine their jamming styles.

Much of the material from the second disc comes from Kiko, an album that many people consider to be the band's finest album. An album that came almost 15 years after the band formed. It was in that album that the band incorporated many traits of third world music and blended it with their own sound. It also includes a sorching live version of "Peace," a song that actually sounds better live than in the studio version.

After seeing many of the bands I grew up with release "best of" collections, I began to feel both skeptical and fairly ancient. Skeptical, obviously because the "best of" collection is always a way of bringing in more cash flow to a band whose peak has well passed (hello White Lion, Warrant and Styx). Ancient... well, obviously when you remember buying the debut album a couple of years ago, then seeing a "greatest hits" surface in the record aisles, it does adjust your time clock.

Yet with Just Another Band From East L.A., it almost seemed like a history lesson. How any band could blend in socially conscious lyrics, bar busting blues and remain virtually untouched by consumer and record industry pressure is a definite cause for recognition. Just another band? Bullshit.

Rating: A

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© 1999 Sean McCarthy and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Slash / Warner Brothers Records, and is used for informational purposes only.