The venerable Los Angeles band (guitarists Cesar Rosas, David Hidalgo and Louie Pérez, Jr., bassist Conrad Lozano and sax man Steve Berlin) pays homage to its musical roots and hometown, delving into a diverse sampling of popular and highly obscure material recorded from the late ’40s to the ’80s. Among the regional obscurities is “Love Special Delivery,” a 1966 single by the little-known Chicano band Thee Midniters.
Acknowledging their longtime buds in the Blasters, they revive Dave Alvin’s 1980 rocker “Flat Top Joint,” adding sharp solos and punchy rhythm licks. Hidalgo’s guitar work on the Buffalo Springfield medley of “Bluebird” and “For What It’s Worth” was specifically conceived to honor the licks of Stephen Stills and Neil Young. The oldest tune, Lalo Guerrero’s obscure “Los Chucos Suaves,” feels ’40s retro – until updated by a powerful, hypnotic guitar interlude.
Los Lobos offer an elegant, nuanced interpretation of Afro-Cuban jazzman Willie Bobo’s “Dichoso” and re-create War’s 1972 hit “The World is a Ghetto,” down to the wah riffs. The guitarists, however, get the final word, with the shimmering slow-dance instrumental “Where Lovers Go.” Originally recorded by the East-L.A. band the Jaguars, it showcases the distinctive stylings of Hidalgo and Rosas.
This article originally appeared in VG’s November 2021 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.