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Los Lobos - Profile of Los Lobos, the Wolves of Mexican Rock

By

Los Lobos

Los Lobos

Courtesy of Warner Bros. Records
In the late 1980s, the world awoke to the existence of a unique Los Angeles neighborhood called ‘East L.A.’. Movies like Cheech Marin’s Born in East L.A (1987), together with 1988’s La Bamba and Stand and Deliver put the spotlight on a neighborhood that had previously been known locally for gangs and zoot suits.
That's all you knew unless you were a Los Lobos fan. Because in the early 70s, East L.A. natives David Hidalgo, Cesar Rosas, Louie Perez and Conrad Lozano decided to do what lots of high school friends were doing – start a band.

Early Days:

They started their musical life as a neighborhood band. Playing at barbeques, weddings or backyard parties, any event was an opportunity. Payment for these gigs could be as little as a case of beer or a tank of gas. That was OK. They were working as a band, getting known and getting by.

Musical Influence:

Their music was evolving as well. Starting with 1970s rock influenced music (for themselves) and performing Mexican folk music genres (for their neighborhood gigs), one style soon fused with the other. Throw in some country music, a dash of R&B and a lot of blues and you get the rich, bold, down-to-earth sound of Los Lobos.

Los Lobos del Este Los Angeles:

Originally calling themselves Los Lobos del Este Los Angeles (the Wolves of East Los Angeles), their debut album Los Lobos Del Este De Los Angeles (Just Another Band from East L.A.) in 1977 highlighted their Mexican roots with traditional favorites like "Cielito Lindo" and "Guantanamera".

But these were not your grandmother’s versions. Always intrepid and original, the son and ranchera numbers on this album bear the distinctive, rock-influenced instrumentation and rhythms that became the hallmark of an original band

La Bamba:

Subsequently picked up by a major label, they shortened their name to Los Lobos and released their first major album in 1984. How Will the Wolf Survive? met with critical acclaim and solidified their growing base of fans. In 1987 they had a hit with By The Light of the Moon, an album of songs made famous by Ritchie Valens, including the ever-popular “La Bomba”.

Releases in the 1990s:

Several more albums followed: La Pistola y el Corazon (1988), The Neighborhood (1990), and the experimental Kiko (1992). They also recorded the children’s record Papa’s Dream and the score to the film Desperado. 1996’s Colossal Head was critically acclaimed, but Warner Bros. failed to keep the band on their list and, for the moment, Los Lobos disbanded to work on other projects.They came back together in 1999 with This Time for Mammoth Records.

Good Morning, Aztlan (2002) isn’t as experimental as Kiko or Colossal Head, but it’s an easy album to listen to. With the Veracruz sound melded to a slow samba beat, the track “Malaque” is one of my favorites. If you have not heard Los Lobos, this is a good album to start with.

30 years of music:

In 2004, Los Lobos celebrated thirty years in the music business. From backyard barbeques to sold-out shows in San Francisco (recorded live at the Filmore), this neighborhood band-made-good has earned the title of America’s premier Latin Rock band.

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