Monday, August 09, 2010

Song of the Week 8/6/10

Los Lobos - "Angel Dance"

I went to see Los Lobos last Tuesday at Bowery Ballroom to do a "record release" show for their latest disc Tin Can Trust. It was obvious that the Band From East L.A. hadn't been doing too many of these new songs in their sets this summer, as both David Hildago and Cesar Rosas needed lyric stands so they wouldn't mess up when singing. (As someone who has used a music stand at gigs for close to five years, I totally understood their pain.) The lack of lyrical knowledge with their new material didn't take away from what was a fun and extremely stress-reducing couple of hours. Seven songs into their set Hildago made a comment about Robert Plant giving him a call saying he wanted to cover one of their songs. I had to chuckle when Hildago said, "Wow, it turned out really good."

The song Plant covered is "Angel Dance" from the Lobos' 1990 album The Neighborhood. I've given that album the short end of the stick over the years because it didn't seem as strong as 1987's By the Light of the Moon and then paled in hindsight compared to 1992's masterpiece Kiko. I've gained new respect over the years for The Neighborhood because I've seen the band play many of the songs over the years (the Bowery show opened with "Emily" from said album and included "Georgia Slop" and the title track) and WFUV a.m. jock Claudia Marshall always seems to play one of the songs from it once or twice a month.

I think "Angel Dance" has grown on me over the years specifically because a) it's turned into such a powerhouse live (it was tremendous at Bowery) and b) lyrically it captures that time gone by, the innocence of kids running around in the summer having fun and lamenting when they have to go to bed that I'm more readily to understand (or long for, I suppose) as a soon-to-be 41 year-old man than I would have as a soon-to-be 21 year-old kid that couldn't wait to hit the bars.

"Angel Dance" is the first single from Plant's upcoming Band of Joy album, which makes me very happy because it'll mean a few more bucks in the pockets of Hildago and his co-writer Louie Perez. And even though Plant's take on "Angel Dance" couldn't touch the original in my ears, the legendary Led Zeppelin singer (and his producer Buddy Miller) do a fine version. The video, shot in June in Chicago, totally captures the mental picture Hildago and Perez painted in my head. And Plant was kind enough to have Hildago and Perez in the clip. But why do they have to drive Plant around? Hmmm.

And it looks like Plant and the new Band of Joy have already improved on the recorded version:

Here's Los Lobos from The Neighborhood tour performing "Angel Dance" on Austin City Limits. Check out the great fretwork from David Hildago:

BONUS: Here's Plant joining Los Lobos and Los Lonely Boys on stage in Chicago in June to cover "Treat her Right."

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