Listen Up: Wednesday, July 11, 2002
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
Los Lobos

Good Morning Aztlán Mammoth Records

By Matthew Smith

Good Morning Aztlán firmly secures Los Lobos’ membership in that small clique of artists who create music not only worth hearing but worth getting fired up over.

Twenty-five years from their first release finds Los Lobos grown up, not grown old. Their mastery of eclecticism makes categorization difficult. Blues, rock, Tejano, folk, and more fuse so friction-free as to make labeling superfluous anyway. Thankfully, though of appropriate age, the band remains too full of spit and coursing blood to ever be mistaken for anything Adult Contemporary. Though squarely aimed at boomers, the record is certainly adventuresome enough to attract a young listener or two.

If Good Morning need be labeled anything, try earthy, bluesy rock with Tex-Mex flavor, sort of a Hispanic Born In The USA, inclusive enough to apply to us all. (The Aztlán of the title refers to the Garden of Eden-like mythical Aztec birthplace.)

Fittingly, a “Paradise Lost” theme is woven throughout the album. The singer in “Big Ranch” notes that “all the doors got 15 locks” before asking, “Whatever happened to the simple days when the children could just play and run?” “The Word,” with soul as sweet as anything on What’s Going On, decries the destruction of the environment and the American spirit, while “Round & Round” delivers a gripping sermon of hope and comfort.

Mature acceptance of life’s bitter realities counters Utopian yearnings, and yet the album never sinks into a downer or becomes pie-in-the-sky mush. From rockers to slow tunes, the mix works perfectly. No true flaws appear. “Tony Y Maria” closely mimics Bruce Springsteen’s “The River” (a couplet is lifted almost verbatim), but the song tells a tale so tender that such similarities are forgivable.

While the disc may not be a masterpiece, or even the band’s best, it is solid, thought-provoking, joyful noise for those who seek music’s intoxicating kick and substance. One of this year’s stronger releases, Good Morning Aztlán also makes a great introduction for those unfamiliar with the band.


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