David Hidalgo was born in Los Angeles in 1954. He is a multi-instrumentalist, playing accordion, violin, banjo, cello, percussion, drums and guitar. He has played on records by Eric Clapton, Paul Simon, Bob Dylan, John Lee Hooker, Roy Orbison, Rickie Lee Jones, Ry Cooder and Tom Waits. In 1973, he formed Los Lobos with Cesar Rosas, Louie Perez and Conrad Lozano. Ten years later Steve Berlin joined the band. After nearly fifty years, sixteen studio albums and four live albums, they are still together. In 1987 they covered Richie Valens’ “La Bamba” and it made Number One in the UK and the USA.
Although “La Bamba”, their name and some of their music categorises them as a “Tex-Mex” band, this is an over simplification. Their music varies between blues, country, R’n’B and Rock’n’Roll. “Tin Can Trust” was their fourteenth studio album, released ten years ago. Since then they have released two more studio albums.
The opening track “Burn It Down” features some great bass playing, soulful vocals, great harmonies from Susan Tedeschi (but not on the YouTube clip) and an amazing guitar solo at the end of the song (even better on the YouTube clip). It’s an opening song that really makes a statement that this is a serious record from one of the great American bands.
“Yo Canto” is brilliant. I had heard very little Los Lobos before this album got a five star review in UNCUT and I think I expected the whole of the album to sound like this. It really rocks hard, has a Spanish vocal from Cesar Romas and makes me wish I’d been in Amoeba Records on August 25th 2010. I’d have bought their entire back catalogue if I’d been there.
The title track “Tin Can Trust” is much slower and more soulful and also manages to get into a great groove. The lyrics concern a man down on his luck and echo The Beatles’ “Can’t Buy me Love”: “Little darling, I can’t buy you those gold rings and things but honey I can give you one thing a man can bring.” When the group were recording this track, David Hidalgo was holding his guitar in his hand without intending to play it but he let rip towards the end without a microphone or amp so what we hear is what came through the vocal microphone. This live version is just as good.
“Jupiter Or The Moon” is also quite slow and the guitar solo is stunning, reminding me very much of Lee Underwood’s guitar solo on “Driftin'” from “Lorca” by Tim Buckley. It sounds like I’m in a beach hut, trying to get to sleep and next door, there’s a mad guitarist doodling away, hoping the sand doesn’t get into his amp. As Neil Young once said about “Tonight’s The Night”, “play it loud but play it in the other room.”
Talking of lost opportunities, how good would it have been to be in Moe’s Alley in Santa Cruz on the night of October 10th 2015 instead of in a classroom or marking exam scripts or watching Star Trek or whatever I was doing. “West L.A. Freeway” is a real rock groove which lasts for seven minutes on the record and over eight minutes in this performance.
There’s no wonder so many great musicians want David Hidalgo to play on their songs. Bud Scoppa wrote “‘Tin Can Trust’ is a kick-ass guitar record showcasing Hidalgo’s ability to fuse his virtuosity with the emotion at the core of each song.”