LOS LOBOS -- Colossal Head (Warner Brothers)

One of the best things about Los Lobos is their ability to cover a wide variety of musical styles on any given album they release. If you're a fan of the band, you come to expect it. Colossal Head doesn't have the variety found on their last album, but it does branch off in a few previously unexplored musical directions. At times, sounding like a cross between the band's eclectic spin-off group, Latin Playboys, and Was (Not Was), the new CD takes a few listens to fully appreciate all the various nuances of the music. Another thing the band has going for it (especially if you're a fan) is that a lot of the tunes sound familiar. Not to the extent where they sound like they're copying themselves - it's more a case where they take a riff that "works" and then expand on it.

The first track, "Revolution", starts off with a bass line reminiscent of War's classic "Low Rider". The CD's first single, "Mas Y Mas" is up after that. The song sounds like it could be a Morphine tune, with screaming guitar thrown in for good measure. "Everybody Loves a Train" and the title track sound like outtakes from the Latin Playboys CD. The basic riff in "Life is Good" sounds a lot like "Dream in Blue", from the band's excellent 1992 release, Kiko. Again, it sounds familiar, yet it's different. The Was (Not Was) sound is readily apparent on "Little Japan". The track would fit perfectly on that band's "What Up, Dog?" CD. The last track on the CD is a bluesy instrumental called "Buddy Ebsen Loves the Night Time". The song evokes a cool, sort of Texas blues feel, then ends abruptly - almost as if the master tape ran out during the mastering process.

Colossal Head is another one of those CDs that require a few listens before you can truly appreciate it. Once you hear it a few times though, you'll find the songs buzzing through your head for a long time. It's not as good as Kiko, but definitely worth picking up.

© 1996 Steve Marshall