Friday, January 22, 2010

FDF Volume 2 Isssue 170 - Los Lobos : How Will The Wolf Survive?

By: March

Album - How Will The Wolf Survive?
Artist - Los Lobos
Key Players - Louie Perez - drums, guitar, quinto. Cesar Rosas - lead vocals, guitar, bajo sexto, mandolin. Conrad Lozano - bass, guitarron, vocals. Steve Berlin - Soprano/Tenor and Baritone Saxophone, percussion. David Hidalgo - lead vocals, guitars, accordion, lap steel, percussion
Produced By - T-Bone Burnett and Steve Berlin

Release Date - 1984

What caused me to blow off the dust? - I've slowly been getting more and more into this band, and had this on cassette tape for ages, even before this new found interest. Anyway, I found the cd in a used bin and quickly grabbed it. The tape is far dustier than the cd that is for sure.

Overview - Los Lobos formed in 1973 and slowly built up a following. This led to them being signed to a major label (Warner Brothers) and they released "How Will the Wolf Survive" in 1984. The album was hearalded by critics and fans alike. Rolling Stone magazine rated it (in 1989) as the 30th best album of the 80's. It also was part of the magazine's top 500 greatest albums of all time at #461. All that aside, the band would become even more widely known when they provided much of the music for the film "La Bamba". The band has continued to write and tour, all with the same members. Their latest record is an album of Disney movie covers that came out in the fall of 2009.

FDF Comments (aka the songs) - The album opens up with a deep groove on "Don't Worry Baby". The vocals are gruff, and the guitar has a both buzzy yet jangle to it. The second solo comes over the top after the verse and each guitar has a nice run on the solo. It has an almost rockabilly feel to it. The band doesn't have very long songs on this record. "A Matter of Time" at 3:55 is the second longest song on the record. This track has a little more of a laid back feel with the band following the lead of the drums and percussion. The guitars and bass follow suit and never get overzealous. The horns are heard for the first time and offer a really full sound to the track. The band hits on its "Chicano" groove on "Corrido #1". The accordion and horns are really the showcase on this track. The guitars are missing allowing the bass and drums to hang on with the horn/accordion portion. The lap steel accompanies the accordion at the intro on "Our Last Night". The guitars are still missing allowing for a very non traditional "rock song". There is a decent lap steel solo after the verse that stands out on the track. The band returns with the deep 12 bar blues guitar work on "The Breakdown". The accordion is once more a strong presence in the track. The bass and drums hold the steady rock bottom groove allowing the band to spread its wings. We hear guitars, horns, accordion on top of them all..including hand claps. Another very fun track (a trend on this record) is "I Got Loaded" a foot stomping, hand clapping and general revelry. The sax solo that comes up is very strong, the strongest solo on the album to this point for the instrument. It actually feels long, but its perfectly placed, and very well played. Its so good, we get a second one! The first track sung in Spanish is "Serenata Nortena" and it lets the band fly its colors. At the time (and still today) this is probably an eye opener to the music of their culture. Think back to 1984, music like this on a major American label debut? It probably confused some, but wowed most. The guitar and horn section open up "Evangeline". The band has gotten comfortable with their sound and direction allowing the horns to blend well with the short guitar bursts. Cesar is in fine voice as always. "I Got to Let You Know" opens with a very choppy drum line hammering over the top of the horns repeating the same runs of notes. The accordion and bass pave the path for another strong saxophone solo, before the band crashes in once more. The shortest track on the album "Lil' King of Everything" (1:19) follows. The lone guitar opens the song before it fills out with a second. This is probably the Baja Sexto (look it up looks like a guitar) and it is a pretty instrumental. The album closes with the title track "Will the Wolf Survive?" (well close to the title track). The drums are prominent at the outset before the whole band comes in on guitars/bass. You hear the mandolin shrill over the verses. There is a great musical interlude after the second verse and when you hear the track (if you never had) you get a very strong representation of the band and their sound. A fantastic track.

Where are they now? - The band still writes, records and tours. See the links below for the tour information in your city.

FDF Personal Comments (aka the Live experience) - I have never seen the band live. Getting in to them more over the last few years has me longing to do so.

FDF Overall Take - This is one heck of a major label debut. A perfect introduction to the band as some of the later records become a little more eclectic (at least what I have found so far). This is a fun record. If you own it, dig it out and check it out in full and proove me wrong. This could be a great BBQ disc as well. I'll have to give that a shot.

Official site is here and myspace is here.

Curious? Check out some MUSIC!

The Mp3's have been taken down:
A Matter of Time
I Got Loaded
Will the Wolf Survive?

Tracks taken from "How Will the Wolf Survive" which you can buy here.

Disclaimer - For the most part songs listed you can find on iTunes or your local cd shop. The idea is to give you a little taste of the music. Please support the artist buy purchasing some of their work. Songs are posted for about 1 week but can and will be removed at the request of the artist, band, band management etc. If you are one of those persons contact me via the email link in the profile and they will be removed as soon as we are made aware of the request.


At 11:17 AM, Blogger Joe said...

I love bands who cover a 'classic' song by giving it their own style, paying tribute, but not destroying the song. LL's LaBamba is a carbon copy of the original so much that most people don't know RV's from theirs. One of my all time favorite musical guilty pleasures is Louis Prima, Los Lobos pulls off "Bear Necessities" on Los Lobos Goes Disney being true to the original and adding a little personality. I used to have a few LL tapes..and a CD or 2, but the only one I still have is 'live at the Fillmore' I'm looking forward to them touring, and hopefully stopping here to see if the Disney songs made it to the set list.

If you are digging the Chicano-rock feel, I suggest checking out one of my favorite discs by The Iguanas (not Iggy Pop) The debut The Iguanas has many great tracks and the second release Nuevo Boogaloo has the great "My girlfriend is a waitress". They are somewhere in between NRBQ and Los Lobos to my ear.

At 10:27 AM, Blogger March to the Sea said...

Joe thanks for the fantastic comment..i'll check it out for sure!


Post a Comment

<< Home