Picks and Pans Review: The Neighborhood

updated 10/22/1990 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 10/22/1990 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Los Lobos

After a lovely but decidedly uncommercial detour into traditional Mexican music with La Pistola y El Corazón, Los Lobos return to their good-rockin'-tonight mode with their strongest album since their 1984 debut LP, How Will the Wolf Survive?

As always, the East L.A. quintet display a wider palette of moods, rhythms and instruments than most of their cranked-up confreres. That diversity leads to a varied mix, from the swamp gospel of "Down on the Riverbed," which sounds like a dark version of "Wade in the Water": to a twist-the-night-away cover of Jimmy McCracklin's "Georgia Slop"; to the clodhopper stomp of "Emily," on which singer David Hidalgo gets harmony help from Levon Helm. The former Band-man also duets with Hidalgo on the devotional "Little John of God."

Though the record is lively and musically fresh, there's a plangent undertone that recalls such transcendental rockers as Richard Thompson, Tom Waits, Neil Young and Van Morrison. Wow! The Neighborhood puts Los Lobos into some block association. (Slash/Warner Bros.)

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