Monday, August 13, 2012

Los Lobos: "Kiko Live" (2012) CD Review

One of my favorite albums, Kiko, turns twenty this year. And to celebrate, Los Lobos are releasing a CD and DVD of a live performance of the album. I have mixed feelings about bands playing complete albums. When I go to a concert, I generally don't like knowing what song is coming next.  I like it when the band allows the moment or the muses to determine the next song. On the other hand, this is one of my favorite albums, and I wish I'd been there to see them perform it. It was recorded on February 24, 2006 in San Diego. And now I'm getting the chance to hear it. And it's excellent. Also, it's not a note-for-note reproduction. Los Lobos stretch out a bit on several songs. This album has nearly eighty minutes of music; the original album is just under fifty-three minutes. These songs have a vitality, like living organisms, so this in no way feels like nostalgia. This album is a new way to experience these tunes. There's not much in the way of stage banter, but there wouldn't be space on the disc for it anyway.

"Dream In Blue"

"Dream In Blue" kicks right in with that great drum beat, and then some bass. There are no band introductions. It sounds great, and they keep it going a bit longer than on the original album, which I appreciate. And then there is a bit of a drum solo at the end, which is wonderful. A great start to this performance.

"Angels With Dirty Faces"

I got a bit mesmerized by the instrumental section in "Angels With Dirty Faces." The mood of those guitars just really got hold of me.

"That Train Don't Stop Here"

And yes, as I expected, this concert includes a kick-ass version of "That Train Don't Stop Here." It got me dancing around my apartment, even in this bloody heat (it's 100 degrees here in L.A. at the moment). There's a very cool guitar section in this rendition that makes it one of the disc's highlights. This version is nearly seven minutes long.

"Saint Behind The Glass"

"Saint Behind The Glass" is my favorite song from Kiko, and it's wonderful to hear the crowd react the moment they recognize it. Clearly I'm not alone in my total love for this song. And there is a beautiful instrumental section added to this version, which put me in a ridiculously joyful mood.

"When The Circus Comes"

There is a slight lyric flub in "When The Circus Comes," but still a pretty great version of one of my favorites  from the album. David repeats "You left your name carved on a tree" instead of singing "I'll scratch your name out on that tree."  This song is not extended or anything; I was hoping for a longer version.

"Arizona Skies"

This rendition of the beautiful instrumental "Arizona Skies" has a groovy percussion section, which is absolutely wonderful.

"Two Janes"

Another highlight of this concert is an incredibly moving version of "Two Janes." This has always been one of my favorites, but this version still really got to me in a powerful way, as if I were hearing it for the first time.

"Wicked Rain"

This concert includes an intense and seriously groovy version of "Wicked Rain" that had me dancing around my apartment again. It's yet another highlight of this live record.

"Just A Man"

At this show, Los Lobos did a really long version of "Just A Man." It's nearly ten minutes. It starts in a slow bluesy way, with that great easy groove and some loose guitar-playing over it. This version features a lively vocal performance. And then the song stretches out, the guitar creating its own path through the blues. Very cool. I don't often think of Los Lobos as a blues band, but holy moly.

And then they stretch out on "Peace" too.

"Rio De Tenampa"

Kiko Live ends with a great version of "Rio De Tenampa," complete with the verses in English, which were not included on the original version, but are included in a demo version in the bonus tracks of the 20th Anniversary Edition.

CD Track List
  1. Dream In Blue
  2. Wake Up Dolores
  3. Angels With Dirty Faces
  4. That Train Don't Stop Here
  5. Kiko And The Lavender Moon
  6. Saint Behind The Glass
  7. Reva's House
  8. When The Circus Comes
  9. Arizona Skies
  10. Short Side Of Nothing
  11. Two Janes
  12. Wicked Rain
  13. Whiskey Trail
  14. Just A Man
  15. Peace
  16. Rio De Tenampa
Los Lobos are on tour now, and fans will have some more chances to see them perform this album in its entirety. The following shows are scheduled to include performances of Kiko: September 27th at Showcase Live in Foxborough, MA; September 28th at Tarrytown Music Hall in Tarrytown, NY; September 30 at Keswick Theatre in Glenside, PA; and October 1st at The Birchmere in Alexandria, VA.

Kiko Live is scheduled to be released on August 21, 2012 from Shout! Factory. Also scheduled for release on that date is the new Kiko 20th Anniversary Edition and the DVD of Kiko Live.

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