Gates of Gold
I love Los Lobos so this album is in no way a total dud, but it is a let-down. We start off okay with the predictable feel of Made to Break Your Heart where the band is in a comfortable glide, it’s better for When We Were Free and we get a little taste of that magic guitar of David Hidalgo. Unfortunately it’s followed up with Mis-Treater Boogie Blues which feels like ZZ Top slumming it. The Cesar Rosas-led boogie-blues/hyper rock’n’roll is becoming a rather obvious shtick and accounts for most of the worst moments here on Gates of Gold. A great shame. There are always moments – a slinky little bit of sure-footed funk on There I Go, but the fiesta feel for Porquito para Aqui and the gorgeous Tex-Mex balladry of La Tumba Sera el Final. But unfortunately these obvious strengths of the band are, for the most part, ignored or looked over in favour of lazy Hendrix-tracing jam-band antics (Too Small Heart) or worse, the silly boogie-shuffle of Nachas.
When the acoustic guitars drive Song of The Sun, or Hidalgo lets loose on the electric for the big climax to When We Were Free we get close to the great feel of what Los Lobos does best.
But it’s not often enough.
And the gap is widening now. It’s been nearly six years since the very strong Tin Can Trust and much like the recent/ish live album Gates of Gold sees the band coasting. Cruising. Sounding tired and certainly a bit lazy.
A great shame given when this band is on there’s none better. I’m still convinced of that. But only from listening to anything else by Los Lobos, not this one. It’s for the die-hards only. And even then, it just doesn’t quite cut it as you feel it probably should.