The creative impulse that David Hidalgo and Louie Perez bring to Los Lobos might well be camouflaged within the collective efforts of the band that produces such memorable work as Kiko
(Slash/Warner Bros, 1992) and The Town and The City
(Hollywood, 2006), but this collection of easygoing, informal recordings by the pair illuminate just how they spark the ingenuity of that band from east LA.
The simplicity inherent in this set of previously unreleased recordings, completed over a span of four decades, is its greatest virtue, but a deceptive one nonetheless. Hidalgo and Perez are such manifestly intelligent men and musicians; nothing they do is as transparent as this seems, but rather a composite reflection on their lives, individually and together, as human beings and artists.
It should come as no surprise that The Long Goodbye so closely resembles a Los Lobos album. After all, Hidalgo and Perez are multi-instrumentalists fully capable of creating the façade of a full band through the miracle of the cassette recorder, with the addition of engineer Larry Hirsch's technical expertise. Nevertheless, the depth of the grooves in "What Good Is Love" and "Big August Moon" are remarkable for the playing's internal motion: it is the sensation of a cooking band.
"Take My Hand" and "Empty Words" are, in contrast, the soulful renderings of the respective songs as direct means of communication, and a reminder why Hidalgo is such a powerful performer, who becomes the songs he sings and plays; a powerful effect with Los Lobos around him and only a little less so here. "When Love Fails" is a rootsier take on style, the sound of pedal steel enlarging the border of the American south, and along the same lines on "Til The Hands Fall Off the Clock," where Hidalgo and Perez mix polka with R&B in such a way as to heighten the authenticity of each stylistic motif.
The intimacy of these recordings amplifies the joy these two men share in collaborating. Musicians as naturally intuitive as Hidalgo and Perez generate a chemistry that carries over into the songs and their recording, so that a direct connection to the tune feeds their musicianship even as the instrumentals complete the composition; one is not separate from the other. Not surprisingly, then, the duo wastes no notes on The Long Goodbye nor indulge in the inclusion of chords, lyrics or any component of an arrangement that's not absolutely essential.
As an unfortunate result of their spartan approach, this CD is woefully brief at less than thirty-five minutes, but the album nevertheless offers a glimpse into an creative relationship that, by all sounds and appearances, continues to gain momentum as time goes on.
Track Listing: What Good Is Love; Don't You Know; When Love Fails; Take My Hand; Till The Hands Fall Off The Clock; Empty Words; Big August Moon; Cure For Love; In 1964; The Long Goodbye.
Personnel: David Hidalgo: guitars, vocals, accordion, pedal steel, percussion; Louie Perez: guitars, vocals, percussion.