Good Morning Aztlan – Los Lobos
Mammouth Records 11501
Sometimes, the opening notes of an album can harbor such extreme ecstasy
that it can almost make you hold your breath the rest of the way in the hope
that you’re not given the Big Letdown somewhere along the way.
That’s how I felt when I pressed play and heard "Done Gone Blue", the
opening track on Los Lobos’ 11th studio album, Good Morning Aztlan.
Actually, my first reaction
was to ride with the potent mix of early rock-influenced guitars that have
been given a modern day snarl and a rhythm that’s all snare drum pushing the
song forward like a cruising steam locomotive.
To be honest, the song sounds like a perfect combination of one aspect of
the musical behemoth that is Los Lobos. It’s so typical of the band’s style
yet, even after 25 years of recording and releasing music, it remains
consistently good and fresh.
"Hearts of Stone" smoothly makes the transition to something slower and more
soulful. Like a number of times on the album, the lyrical mood is one of
melancholy and a longing for a more innocent time that isn’t filled with all
the everyday dangers that surround us. And we’re not even talking about
post-9/11 paranoia! It’s no surprise that the album’s title refers to a
mythical Garden of Eden during the time of the Aztecs.
Still, Los Lobos are able to, with their blend of rock, Latin, soul and
the occasional left field choice thrown in to make these pensive tunes a
major delight to listen to again and again and…
As Aztlan moved from one track to the next, I began to question
I’d be as pleased as I was at its beginning. By this time I realized time
drifted by and the album was half over. David Hidalgo and Cesar Rosas
continued to take turns painting mental pictures for the duration of the
album. That portion breezed by as well.
As record company publicity press releases are prone to do, this one
boasted that Good Morning Aztlan is "the finest album in their
career". Usually such pronouncements send me running in the other direction.
For a change I may have to agree.