Los Lobos By the Light of the Moon on Numbered Edition 180g LP
Mellowed-Out 1987 Album Showcases Bandâ€™s Contemplative Side and Virtuosic Musicianship
Los Lobos might have touted themselves as â€œjust another band from East L.A.,â€ but itâ€™s quite likely that even the groupâ€™s humble members recognized that fewâ€”if anyâ€”other artists in the late 1980s rivaled their soulful music, rousing performances, and eclectically blended arrangements. While lacking the commercial status of the quintetâ€™s subsequent La Bamba release, By the Light of the Moon
stands as the bandâ€™s most enjoyable excursion into American-hued soul, penetratingly reflective lyrics, and earnest roots rock. The music making is simply extraordinary.
These 11 songs come to life and out of the clouded, foggy sonic environment in which theyâ€™ve remained for more than two decades. For the first time, T Bone Burnettâ€™s stripped-back production functions as it should. Namely, Los Lobos sound as if theyâ€™re playing at a small, sweaty neighborhood joint late on a Sunday night for an audience of locals, friends, and family.
The groupâ€™s uncanny ability to switch between instruments and effortlessly play each as if itâ€™s their innate rightâ€”listen to the seamless fashion in which electric and acoustic guitars, marimbas, organs, saxophones, harmonicas, and percussion create strikingly memorable soundscapesâ€”comes to light amidst a warmer, airier, more organic and deep-black background. David Hidalgoâ€™s sweet, honeysuckle timbre, he and Cesar Rosasâ€™ overlapping tremolo guitars, and stacks of interwoven rhythms jump with vibrant electricity.
Shifting into storytelling mode, Los Lobos use By the Light of the Moon
as an opportunity to meditate on everyday America and channel the fate of normal communities. Issues of faith, mortality, love, disillusionment, and melancholy inform narratives that are on the same socially conscious level as those of period-era Bruce Springsteen and John Mellencamp. As for the songs, they crackle, waltz, shuffle, dance, tremble, and kick. The band almost dares listeners not to care.
Whether leaning into twangy two-step country-rock (â€œOne Night In Americaâ€), dual-guitar shootout rockabilly (â€œShakinâ€™ Shakinâ€™ Shakesâ€), swinging jump R&B (â€œIs This All There Is?â€), tequila-spiked East Los Angeles-style rock (â€œSet Me Free (Rosa Lee)â€), searing Latin-tinged blues (â€œMy Babyâ€™s Goneâ€), or poignant gospel-lined folk (â€œRiver of Foolsâ€), Los Lobosâ€™ Tex-Mex gumbo continually impresses and delights.
Donâ€™t pass up one of the best releases of the 1980s and one of Los Lobosâ€™ definitive statements. Youâ€™ll never hear a better pressing. Boleros, rancheros, and more await!Los Lobos By the Light of the Moon Track Listing:
1. One Time One Night â€“ 4:48
2. Shakin' Shakin' Shakes â€“ 4:13
3. Is This All There Is? â€“ 4:00
4. Prenda Del Alma â€“ 3:21
5. All I Wanted To Do Was Dance â€“ 3:57
6. Set Me Free (Rosa Lee) â€“ 3:35
7. The Hardest Time â€“ 3:12
8. My Baby's Gone â€“ 3:41
9. River of Fools â€“ 2:55
10. The Mess We're In â€“ 3:01
11. Tears of God â€“ 3:46