Acoustic en Vivo

Los Lobos

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Acoustic en Vivo Review

by William Ruhlmann

While maintaining their tenure with Mammoth Records for frontline, English-language, studio recordings, Los Lobos launch their own independent record label with the release of Acoustic en Vivo. The band that began its career with the self-released 1978 album, Just Another Band from East L.A., repeats that formula here and also follows up its Grammy Award-winning 1988 LP of Mexican folk music, La Pistola y el Corazon on a disc that is well described by its title: the performances are acoustic and live, and the language is Spanish, for the most part. Exceptions include two songs from Kiko, "Two Janes" and "Saint Behind the Glass," plus the previously unheard "Teresa," all sung in English. Other selections derive from other earlier albums, such as "El Cuchipe" and "Guantanamera," which appeared on Just Another Band from East L.A.; "La Guacamaya" and the title song from La Pistola y el Corazon; "Maricela" from Colossal Head; and "Volver, Volver," which appeared on the compilation album Just Another Band from East L.A.: A Collection. There are also several other newly recorded songs, among them the rousing opener, "Canto a Veracruz." Of course, the band plays this music enthusiastically and effectively, ranging from guitarron-driven Tejano numbers to the R&B/rock & roll-styled "Volver, Volver." The live aspect is de-emphasized by including only sparse applause, but the vivacity of the band makes up for that. In their commercial heyday, Los Lobos were able to include their ethnic side more prominently on their mainstream releases; now they're back to putting out this kind of music themselves, but it's still an important part of their sound.

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