Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Los Lobos: Wolf Tracks: The Very Best of Los Lobos [Rhino, 2006]
Although they surfaced on the punkoid Slash label and got all trip-hoppy in their Latin Playboys side project, at bottom these East L.A. winners of a 2001 Billboard lifetime achievement award are one of the strongest straight-ahead rock bands of the past quarter century. In a sense their most important member is their most obscure: bassist Conrad Lozano, implacably anchoring blues, boogie, polka, two-step, corrida, and what-have-you variants on a solid four-four rhythm. With a brief detour into Mexican folkloricism, which doesn't mean "La Bamba," this 20-year, 20-song overview has a groove that's Latin mostly by way of spicing, accent, and aura. It's an assimilationist showpiece that proves Mexican-Americans are as American as any other kind--except that some of them write much better songs. [Blender: 4]