Record Spinning

Los Lobos, the Dream Syndicate, and more

By Jim Caligiuri, 12:00PM, Wed. Aug. 11, 2010

Record Spinning

Tin Can Trust (Shout! Factory), Los Lobos' latest, is a bluesy river with occasional cascades to keep it interesting. Set opener “Burn It Down,” with guest vocals by Susan Tedeschi, is one of the best tracks I’ve heard this year, a mind-blower of an excursion that ends in near catastrophic guitar fuzz.

Along the way there’s a cumbia, a norteño (both courtesy of Cesar Rosas), and leisurely roll with the Grateful Dead’s “West L.A. Fadeway.” Throughout, the playing and songwriting are intuitive and inspired, the kind that comes from a veteran band really listening to each other, locked in like the brothers they are and still in love with what they do.

For many, the Dream Syndicate’s 1982 debut, The Days Of Wine and Roses, will forever be a post-punk touchstone. Its follow-up, Medicine Show (Water), remains an afterthought. Newly reissued after years of being out of print, the Steve Wynn-led band’s sophomore effort deserves new scrutiny. Side one features shorter, brutish bursts of melody highlighted by the Crazy Horse inspired “Burn.” Side two is composed of longer almost Television-like guitar excursions, with “John Coltrane Stereo Blues” being the disc’s masterpiece. To make the reissue more inviting the equally rare This Is Not the New Dream Syndicate Album… Live! EP has been tacked on. Notable for a piano-based reworking of the Syndicate’s signature “Tell Me When It’s Over,” it proves the Paisley Underground tag affixed to them misguided. Live, they’re as heavy-lidded as Lou Reed at his druggiest.

Another side of the early 1980s is represented by George Thorogood and the Destroyers’ Live in Boston 1982 (Rounder). While there have been other Thorogood live offerings, this one finds them fresh off of touring with the Rolling Stones, sweaty and unrelenting for nearly 70 minutes and with nearly immaculate sound. These days, Thorogood’s mix of blues, country, and rock seems kind of antiquated, but at the time he was one of the few bringing new life to the songs of John Lee Hooker, Elmore James, Chuck Berry, and Hank Williams. Fans will want to know that there are many songs here that haven’t appeared on any other of the Delaware Destroyers' live discs and that there’s a deluxe download version available that includes the full two-and-a-half hour concert.

Country music has few, if any, ambassadors with deeper credentials than Marty Stuart. He got his start with Lester Flatt, spent some time in Johnny Cash’s band, and in the 1990s was a Grammy-winning hitmaker. With Ghost Train: The Studio B Sessions (Sugar Hill) he not only returns to the label that released his first record but to the first place he ever recorded in Nashville. Moving away from the gospel and bluegrass-tinged music he’s successfully attempted the past few years, Stuart’s back to the kind of country he had the most success with, and without a hint of pop. Most notable is the eerie “Hangman,” a tune he co-wrote with Johnny Cash just four days before the Man in Black passed away, and “I Run to You,” a sumptuous duet with wife Connie Smith. Timeless and endearing, just the way he planned it, Ghost Train is in the running for best country album of 2010.

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