Los Tigres del Norte

La Reina del Sur

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In Spanish, La Reina del Sur means "the queen of the south." But Los Tigres del Norte are kings of the north -- north as in norteño/Tex-Mex music that was invented by Mexican-Americans who lived north of the U.S./Mexico border. For a long time, the San Jose CA-based outfit has enjoyed a reputation for being a well-oiled norteño machine; they're one of the groups that listeners turn to when they want to hear pure, unapologetic norteño. And their albums have, for the most part, been impressively consistent; La Reina del Sur is no exception. Released in 2002, this CD doesn't point the veteran group in any new directions -- anyone who already has a lot of Los Tigres del Norte albums in his/her collection won't find La Reina del Sur to be groundbreaking. But in terms of quality and consistency, you can't go wrong with this album. Hearing this band playing norteño/Tex-Mex is a lot like hearing a veteran Cuban outfit playing son, mambo, guaguancó, and cha cha -- sure, Los Tigres have long since become predictable, but they're still great at what they do. Tracks like "No Merezco Tus Lágrimas" and "Mira, Mira, Mira" are pure, state-of-the-art norteño -- warm, lively, expressive, and emotionally rich. Of course, describing norteño artists as purists is rather ironic because norteño, after all, is a hybrid form that owes something to different cultures. Norteño's lyrics are in Spanish and are inspired by the Mexican experience, but the polka beat that one hears on much of this album has a strong German connection -- the same beat one hears at Oktoberfest is also heard at Cinco de Mayo. La Reina del Sur is yet another fine album from a Tex-Mex institution.

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