Saturday, November 19, 2011

Cesar Rosas - Soul Disguise (1999)

Cesar Rosas, the "other" singer and guitarist for Los Lobos, the great Los Angeles quintet, is not as well known as frontman David Hidalgo and he is a less prolific composer than either Hidalgo or bandmate Louis Perez. However, he shouldn't have to take a back seat to them because Rosas is a better vocalist than his legendary group's lead singer and his original songs are just as rewarding as those written by the Hidalgo/Perez team.

Rosas' one and only solo CD, Soul Disguise (1999), rocks just as hard as his band did in their early years and stylistically it is reminiscent of their debut, How Will the Wolf Survive. The guitarist is also a versatile singer who can handle horn-fueled R & B ("E. Los Ballad #13"), traditional Mexican folk music ("Angelito" and "Adios Mi Vida"), and even a soulful ballad ("Better Way"). Much of the rest is straight ahead rock highlighted by "Little Heaven," the blues influenced "Tough To Handle," and the Jimi Hendrix inspired title track. The band is just as adept as he is and all-star accordionist Flaco Jimenez ably assists them on both of the tunes sung in Spanish. One of the two covers on this twelve track disc is a really hot version of Ike Turner’s "You’ve Got to Lose" that continues to burn long after the song ends.

Rosas didn’t try anything new on Soul Disguise but if you like Los Lobos you will like this CD a lot too.

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