Picks and Pans Review: Papa's Dream

updated 02/20/1995 at 01:00 AM EST

originally published 02/20/1995 01:00AM

Los Lobos with Lalo Guerrero

This band from East L.A. keeps stepping off the pop treadmill to dabble in soundtracks, collections of traditional Mexican music and now this album for children. All these experiments have been performed with the band's usual heady elegance and muted romanticism.

The album gets off to a rousing start with an impertinent, andante arrangement of Los Lobos's biggest hit, their 1987 version of "La Bamba." That is followed by an infectious reworking of Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs' greasy pop nugget "Wooly Bully" and a swinging at-the-hop cover of the Hollywood Flames' "Buzz, Buzz, Buzz."

In narrative snippets between songs, Lalo Guerrero, a venerable figure in the Latino music community, weaves a fanciful tale of loading his entire family into "a Chicano blimp" and flying down to Mexico to celebrate his 80th birthday in his native land. As the narrative drifts farther south, so does the music, from Tex-Mex to corridos, rancheras and bandas. At the same time, the lyrics turn bilingual, and Papa Lalo assumes more of the singing duties.

The songs are delicious on both sides of the border. If they had had kids' music like this when we were growing up, we'd all be richer adults. (Music for Little People)

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