Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Los Lobos: Colossal Head [Warner Bros., 1996]
Set on proving how big a band from East L.A. could rock, they painted themselves into a cornball corner until Tchad Blake lured two of them out with his cache of found sounds. Result: Latin Playboys, impressionistic fragments coalescing into a self-sustaining aural counterreality. And although this return to their primary identity masquerades manfully as an arena-ready song collection, neither the one about rain nor the one about trains convinces me they'll ever revert. From enchanted-island salsa to Santana solo, from revolutionary disillusion to feeling happy anyway, their infinitely absorptive eclecticism feels blessed rather than bombarded. They're not dealing with it, they're digging it. And if you're as big as they are you will too. A