Sunday, April 08, 2012

Top 50 Albums, #31 - "Kiko," Los Lobos

Just another band from East L.A., my ass.

Los Lobos has been playing together now for more than 30 years, and the end isn't even close to being in sight. At one time, they were close to being "the next big thing," but the great thing about this band is that they're going to do what they want and maintain their musical integrity, regardless of whether it hurts their record sales. So if that means you get a couple of songs sung in Spanish, or perhaps an instrumental or two thrown in, well, that's what you're going to get.

For me, "Kiko" is the best representation of the band's musical depth and strength. One moment, you're listening to flat out rock and roll. The next, you might hear a beautiful Mexican ballad. And then, before you know it, you hear a song where the music brings Duke Ellington to mind. The album was the beginning of a somewhat experimental era for the band, where they teamed with producers Mitchell Froom and Tchad Blake on a sound that was fuller, more robust than anything they'd done in the past. They were stretching themselves during this time to a degree that was almost unheard of, and they rode that wave for several years before a retrenchment into what could be called "their old sound."

I own more than a dozen albums by this great band, and this is the best one. Very deserving of its spot here, among the greats.

Kiko (1992) Produced by Mitchell Froom and Los Lobos, Recorded by Tchad Blake

Dream in Blue/Wake Up Dolores/Angels With Dirty Faces/That Train Don't Stop Here/Kiko and the Lavender Moon/Saint Behind the Glass/Reva's House/When the Circus Comes/Arizona Skies/Short Side of Nothing/Two Janes/Wicked Rain/Whiskey Trail/Just A Man/Peace/Rio De Tanampa

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