Lovers of jazz, cabaret, and traditional pop often speak of the Great American Songbook -- that is, all the classic songs that George Gershwin, Cole Porter, Irving Berlin, and others brought to New York City's Tin Pan Alley. And in Mexico and the southwestern part of the United States, there is a different but equally rich treasure chest of material that should be called "the Great Mexican Songbook." José Alfredo Jiménez (who was arguably the Antonio Carlos Jobim of Mexico), Felipe Valdés Leal, Pepe Guízar, and other Mexican songwriters gave listeners a wealth of time-honored standards that continue to receive a great deal of attention from mariachi, ranchera, banda, norteño, duranguense, and tierra caliente artists. In fact, the Great Mexican Songbook is exactly what Los Tigres del Norte pay tribute to on Raíces. Unlike the mariachi bands that play standards exclusively, this norteño powerhouse is hardly a cover band or a repertory act; many of the songs that they are best known for (such as "Contrabando y Traición," "La Reina del Sur," "La Juala de Oro," and "La Banda del Carro Rojo") became famous after Los Tigres recorded them. But on this 2008 release, Los Tigres savor the pleasures of a standards-oriented approach for a change -- and that means embracing several songs by Jiménez (including "No Me Amenaces," "Tu Recuerdo y Yo," "El Rey," and "El Hijo del Pueblo") as well as Leal's "Rumbo al Sur" and Guízar's "Sin Ti." These songs have been performed in many different musical settings over the years, but on Raíces, the Great Mexican Songbook is always approached as hardcore norteño -- and even though they are recording very familiar songs, Los Tigres always sound distinctive on this pleasing addition to their catalog.
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AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson