To mark their 30th anniversary as a band, these Angelenos take a page from classic wedding etiquette, offering up something old, something new, something borrowed, and something blue -- combining the lot with soulful intelligence on The Ride. Harking back to material from their vast catalog, the band revisit songs like "Matter of Time" (from 1984's How Will the Wolf Survive?), bringing in new blood like Elvis Costello, who subtly shifts the original's adobe-and-asphalt tone into territory that's more urbane than urban. Longtime Grateful Dead collaborator Robert Hunter chips in with lyrics for one of the disc's new tunes, "Hurry Tomorrow," a pensive, Neil Youngstyled number that bares the Lobos' affinity for the modern-day jam scene. They've always been capable of getting back to their three-sets-a-night roots with well-chosen covers, a flair they demonstrate by calling in soul legend Bobby Womack to sing lead on his own "Across 110th Street," invested here with a desolate-but-funky vibe. And as for blue? Dave Alvin's rending, reverb-laced contributions to "Somewhere in Time" couldn't be more indigo. There's grit to spare in these grooves, but much like the landscape that spreads out in all directions from the Lobos' East L.A. stomping ground, The Ride is scenic indeed.
Many years ago I bought a cut-out LP of a Los Lobos' Spanish language project. It was OK and I admired some radio cuts but this is one of two Lobos CD I just bought (finally). After one listen I found much to admire. They sound like a Hispanic Band, Fairport Convention, or CCR. The guest stars add a lot. Richaed Thompson and Mavis Staples especially stand out. I give this set 4 1/2 stars. It is a bargain at the present price and I will be checking out more of the wolves.