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    Los Lobos

    Chuy’s Tape Box, Vol. 1

    Los Lobos - Chuy’s Tape Box, Vol. 1

    2005

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    All Music Guide Review

    Having launched their own self-titled record label with Acoustic en Vivo, a live "unplugged" album of mostly Spanish-language Mexican favorites that provided no information as to date or place of performance, Los Lobos follows up with an archival release more in the manner of the Grateful Dead's albums drawn from their tape vault. In fact, it's even called Chuy's Tape Box, Vol. 1, and the date and location are specified this time: "Recorded January 14, 1984 at La Casa De La Raza, Santa Barbara CA," reads a legend at the top of the back cover. That would place the show after the release of the band's celebrated 1983 EP ... And a Time to Dance (from which seven of the eight songs are performed here) and before the release of their celebrated national debut LP How Will the Wolf Survive? (four songs from which are previewed here). They also play songs later to turn up on the La Bamba soundtrack, By the Light of the Moon, and the compilation Just Another Band from East L.A.: A Collection. This is the group that caused all the fuss among fans and critics, at the time that fuss was being created. Rampaging through 25 songs in 77 minutes, Los Lobos alternate revivals of gutbucket R&B and roadhouse rock & roll with authentic 2-step Tex-Mex rancheros. Part of the time, they sound like a great Mexican wedding band, another part like a tribute group to the more Latin-oriented aspects of late-'50s and early-'60s rock & roll, covering no less than three songs by Ritchie Valens (including, of course, "La Bamba"), plus material by the likes of King Curtis, Fats Domino, and Santo & Johnny. They mix in a few originals, too, unannounced, and those songs fit in just fine. The stage comments are brief and to the point, intended to give the audience a moment to breathe, change the pace, and then go back to the party. "All right, this next song is ladies' choice," says Cesar Rosas, prefacing a cover of Bo Diddley's "I'm Sorry." "It's a grinder, and it goes something like this." That is all listeners need to know, and they respond as enthusiastically as might be expected. Los Lobos went in other directions after the early days immortalized on this disc, but for their roots rock phase, this is as good as it gets. ~ William Ruhlmann, Rovi



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