A useful cultural history that is sure to please fans and musicologists.



The first “critical history” of Los Lobos.

In his debut, former Hollywood Reporter music editor and Billboard senior writer Morris presents an overview of the seminal California band’s four-decade career, focusing on how their musical palate expanded over time. A longtime supporter (his was one of the last weddings Los Lobos played), the author attributes “Los Lobos’ totemic position in L.A.’s musical firmament” to their unique background and the individual members’ restless open-mindedness. Initially, the youthful Mexican-American amateur musicians wanted to play traditional folk, in keeping with the era’s Chicano consciousness. As they honed this approach in raucous restaurant and wedding gigs, they also found themselves inspired by LA’s fertile post-punk scene, where they found kinship with bands like X and the Blasters. This incongruous fusion of Mexican music with punk’s reverence for rockabilly and roots paid off; fervent early supporters and the band themselves were startled by a Grammy win for an early EP. With their major label debut, "it became apparent to the band's producers that something new was afoot in Los Lobos' music." Still, no one expected that their titular single from the 1987 film La Bamba (a Richie Valens cover) would be a sudden chart-topper. Unable to match its commercial success, despite the prodding of several record labels, the band went on to a series of experimental, acclaimed (but underselling) albums. As Morris summarizes, “after hitting a creative wall amid the snares of rock stardom, they forged into terra incognita.” The author writes with an encyclopedic knowledge of California rock and effectively uses interviews with band members and producers. Although his primary focus is on a chronological analysis of the band’s recordings and their production, Morris also deftly addresses insider aspects of the music industry, much transformed since the 1970s, adding depth to this otherwise brief account while clarifying how Los Lobos survived changes in styles and label politics to become an enduring cross-cultural institution.

A useful cultural history that is sure to please fans and musicologists.

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-292-74823-1

Page Count: 184

Publisher: Univ. of Texas

Review Posted Online: June 7, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

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This is not the Nutcracker sweet, as passed on by Tchaikovsky and Marius Petipa. No, this is the original Hoffmann tale of 1816, in which the froth of Christmas revelry occasionally parts to let the dark underside of childhood fantasies and fears peek through. The boundaries between dream and reality fade, just as Godfather Drosselmeier, the Nutcracker's creator, is seen as alternately sinister and jolly. And Italian artist Roberto Innocenti gives an errily realistic air to Marie's dreams, in richly detailed illustrations touched by a mysterious light. A beautiful version of this classic tale, which will captivate adults and children alike. (Nutcracker; $35.00; Oct. 28, 1996; 136 pp.; 0-15-100227-4)

Pub Date: Oct. 28, 1996

ISBN: 0-15-100227-4

Page Count: 136

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1996

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An extravaganza in Bemelmans' inimitable vein, but written almost dead pan, with sly, amusing, sometimes biting undertones, breaking through. For Bemelmans was "the man who came to cocktails". And his hostess was Lady Mendl (Elsie de Wolfe), arbiter of American decorating taste over a generation. Lady Mendl was an incredible person,- self-made in proper American tradition on the one hand, for she had been haunted by the poverty of her childhood, and the years of struggle up from its ugliness,- until she became synonymous with the exotic, exquisite, worshipper at beauty's whrine. Bemelmans draws a portrait in extremes, through apt descriptions, through hilarious anecdote, through surprisingly sympathetic and understanding bits of appreciation. The scene shifts from Hollywood to the home she loved the best in Versailles. One meets in passing a vast roster of famous figures of the international and artistic set. And always one feels Bemelmans, slightly offstage, observing, recording, commenting, illustrated.

Pub Date: Feb. 23, 1955

ISBN: 0670717797

Page Count: -

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 25, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1955

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