Freddie Mercury and Los Lobos
The Great Pretender
There are many snippets of performance included here but The Great Pretender is a documentary about Mercury's life around the time of the making of his solo album Mr. Bad Guy. Various interview segments show Mercury, cigarette ever present, animatedly commenting on various subjects including how the other members of Queen felt about his going solo (they weren't crazy about the idea.) In one very humorous segment Mercury tells why he called off his recording sessions with Michael Jackson---because Jackson insisted on bringing his llama into the studio every day. This is also the era when Mercury found out that he was HIV-positive and one brief segment shows his partner Jim Hutton relating how Mercury broke the news to him. There are other sad moments too but mostly Mercury's irrepressible personality comes through loud and clear making the overall tone of the film one of celebration.
Los Lobos have a considerable catalog but the consensus among fans is that 1992's Kiko is their best effort. This performance of Kiko played in order and in its entirety happened in 2006 but it was just released this year in honor of the album's 20th anniversary. Soulful vocals and Latin melodies and rhythms are mainstays of the band's music but otherwise they are impossible to pigeonhole; this album alone finds them swinging to the boogie of "That Train Don't Stop Here," conjuring the Caribbean with "Saint Behind the Glass," jazzing things up with "Wicked Rain," heading to old Mexico for "Arizona Skies" and alt-rocking out in a "Will the Wolf Survive" vein on "Reva's House." The playing here of Kiko's 16 tracks is very impassioned and the band member commentary and reminiscences presented between songs shows exactly where that passion comes from. A CD of the performance is also included.