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  Listen Up! 5/24/02 Listen Up!

Friday, May 24

Los Lobos, “Good Morning Aztlan,” Mammoth Records. If this record was on LP, I’d wear out side one. Not that side two would suck or anything, but the first four songs here are the best things Los Lobos has done in the ten years since their classic “Kiko” album. Gone are the noodling experimental weirdness, the abandonment of passion in favor of eclectism. Here, one of the finest rock’n’roll’n’Mexican bands in the world just kicks ass and plays great songs like they matter to them. And, when these songs are rock’n’roll or bluesy, there’s nobody that can touch them for sheer excitement. That’s what the first four songs are, and that’s why I’d play that side to death.

Warren Zevon, “My Ride’s Here,” Artemis Records. Leave it to Zevon to write a transcendent smart-ass song about a hockey goon. Well, actually, I haven’t left it to Zevon to write anything I cared about in a long time. His first two and one half albums were among the finest of the 70s, then he went into a serious slump that pretty much ensured I wouldn’t bother to listen to his records unless it was accidental. This one is pretty damn good, as he seems a little more interested in varying the melodies again. The lyrics I’m hearing jump out as being smart and funny; of course, they’re co-written with actual literary folks whose work I’ve never read (except Hunter S. Thompson, whose work I have read, but who isn’t really literary.) Any way, I’m gonna keep listening to this for a while.

The Small Faces, “The Definitive Anthology of the Small Faces,” Popumentary Records. Well, it’s no more definitive than any other anthology of the Small Faces, whose penitence for recording for Immediate back in the 60s is a lifetime (or rather, post-lifetime) of reissues scattered on labels that fall away as fast as they come out. This 55-track set, though, is full of masterpieces and the occasional mistake, showcasing the soulful mastery of Steve Marriott, the inventive heart of Ronnie Lane, the stunning keyboards of Ian McGlagen, and the rocking drumming of Kenny Jones. They were a band that deserves a spot just to the south of the Who in the Brit-rock pantheon.

--Steve Pick



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