This is one that I'm very curious to hear. Let me preface this edition of Emergency Surgery by telling you that I love the debut album. I think it's a great mix of Santana-like Latin inflections and contemporary radio rock melodies, along with some great instrumentation. Since that debut, the Boys released "Live At The Fillmore," which I refused to listen to, and here's why. They put out one album of original material for Chrissakes! They were very popular at the time, and I'm sure they had a two or three record deal to close out, so they milked every last drop out of the record buying public while they had the chance. But, hey, that's just my opinion. The real question I have is this: Did the Boys blow their load on the debut and not have anything left for another record? Is that part of the reason we got a live album?
This review stands to answer one very important question: Can they consistently write solid songs like those on the debut, or is the creative kegger all tapped out? Let's find out . . .
Track 1: "My Way" Very cool guitar groove laid down to start the tune. Very cool horns adding a nice burst of energy. The vocal harmonies are back from the debut, and they sound just as strong. Great harmonic guitar work also. The band is right on track with this one. It's got almost all of the best elements that made the first record so wonderful. Great start. RATING: 8
Track 2: "Orale" Great guitar tone. This is an upbeat and steady Latin groove, not unlike something you might hear from Los Lobos. This might be a little simple, with no horns or vocal harmonies, but it's still pretty effective. Not bad. RATING: 6
Track 3: "Diamonds" This one's more of a straight forward Country Rock song. The vocal thing that these guys have is really pretty astonishing. Almost this entire song is sung by two voices that compliment each other exquisitely. But, unfortunately, other than the nice vocal relations, this one is a little too simple and doesn't really go anywhere. RATING: 4
Track 4: "Oye Mamacita" Another heavy Latin groove with fantastic guitar tone, except this time the guitar is rockin' a little more. We get a little more on the Santana side of things with this one, maybe even in the same realm as the latter's smash hit "Smooth." Now, this one I almost wish was a little longer. It's just over three and a half minutes, and I think if there was a :30 or :45 guitar jam worked into this one it would have been a little more effective. Good song though. RATING: 7
Track 5: "I Never Met A Woman" It's slow ballad time. Steady tempo . . . steady vocal . . . maybe a little too steady. Toward the end we get a second vocal jumping in with some soulful input, and we get a sped up tempo that carries a little ripper of a guitar solo – but it's a case of too little too late on this one. RATING: 3
Track 6: "Roses" A straight forward classic rock style here. A nice hook that gets a little repetitive, but the Hammond organ bits and the great instinctive guitar fills make it a decent listen. RATING: 6
Track 7: "Texican Style" Cool harmonica riff carries this one. Kind of a Country rock style with some bluesy vocals and a fun guitar solo in the middle of the tune. This is just a loose jam with a free and easy feel. Nice. RATING: 6
Track 8: "One More Day" "Even the blind can see all the things that are wrong in the world today." This is the protest song on the album, if there is one. It's just a steady mellow rock tune that talks about the state of the world, and getting together to possibly change things. If you're into lyrics, these are pretty good ones, and they have a pleasing melody to go with them too. Simple, yet effective. RATING: 6
Track 9: "Memories" Yet another mellow rock tune. They seemed to have left the Latin groove behind now. Where are the horns and the rolling R's that make Latin music so distinct? I'd listen to Dave Matthews if I wanted mellow American rock. All of that aside, this is a pretty good song. All of the songs are starting to have the same tempo though. They might all be nicely written and melodic, but "flow" has a lot to do with the arranging process of a successful record. But, again, this is decent. RATING: 5
Track 10: "My Loneliness" This is a little different sound for the band. This is a darker song, but it still has the same tempo. The mood is more somber, but it still qualifies as a mid-tempo mellow rock song, just like the four songs before it; the nice guitar work and the darker feel make it listenable though. RATING: 6
Track 11: "Outlaws" With mention of "Waylon" and "Johnny Cash," this is a mean and nasty type of rocker. A fuzzier ZZ Top guitar and a Big & Rich "outlaw country" style make this a very welcome change. OOH! Blaring horns shout out in the middle of this one! Yes!! This is much better. Now we start to get some guest vocalists too. Willie Nelson, the man that found these guys and helped to break them, sings a verse here, as does their father, Enrique Garza Sr. Mr. Garza – who is a Tejano and Country musician – taught his three sons to play their instruments, and had them as his backing band in their early years. Man, did this album need this kick in the ass! Great song. RATING: 8
Track 12: "Home" Okay, we're back to the mid-tempo Clapton rock song. You know what; I don't want to hear any more of these. Again, some nice guitar work and a nice melody, but this is way too typical of this record. It's all starting to sound the same. RATING: 4
Track 13: "Living My Life" Slow, plodding song that has the same properties as all of the rest of the mid-tempo rock songs. Nice guitar, nice vocals, blah blah blah. But didn't I hear this song already? RATING: 4
OVERALL RATING: 5 "DEAD"
I can't let this one live. This is a really talented trio that does some nice things, but where is the flavor? This record needs more song titles that I can't pronounce. Where is the Latin influence? I tell you folks, it's not on this record. This is Los Lonely Boys doing an Eric Clapton record. They needed to do some different things here too. Insert the horn section, or possibly just one horn, into a few more things. Give us some different sounds from the production end of things. I think Los Lonely Boys failed to do all of those things. This is a safe record. They used their great talent to play these mid-tempo Claptonesque songs well, and thought that being unimaginative would be okay – and oddly and sadly enough, it probably will be; but this one died for those reasons in Dr. Music's Operating Room.
You know, I was told that these guys were "Clapton Light" and "Santana Light" by a few people after the debut came out. I defended the group and thought that they were more than that and I still believe they were on the first record. But for this one, not only are they "Clapton Light" and "Santana Light," they are "Los Lonely Boys Light". . . and that ain't good.
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