1983's ...And a Time to Dance wasn't Los Lobos' first record, but if you lived outside of East Los Angeles, chances are excellent that you'd never crossed paths with a copy of their self-released debut album (Del Este de Los Angeles (Just Another Band from East L.A.)) before this EP hit the racks. At only seven songs, ...And a Time to Dance didn't give the group the space to present more than a quick once-over of their eclectic musical range, but it did make it clear that this was a really great band, with the kind of chops, intelligence, and maturity that can come from a decade of woodshedding. And on ...And a Time to Dance, not only was the band having a great time playing "spot the genre" with their audience, they were crossbreeding styles and coming up with great sounds all their own: the straight-up rock & roll of "Let's Say Goodnight" is fortified with a strong dose of Tex-Mex fire thanks to David Hidalgo's accordion, the bluesy swing of "Walking Song" gets a spring in its step from a fleet-fingered jazz guitar line, and the two traditional numbers in Spanish both burn with the high spirits and hot tempos of a potent rock & roll band. And it's hard not to love a song like "How Much Can I Do?," in which a guy tries to prove his love to his wife by promising to lay off cheap wine and nights out at the nudie bar. If ...And a Time to Dance didn't quite make clear Los Lobos were one of America's truly great bands, it did make clear they were a lot of fun and a force to be reckoned with, and that's quite enough of a message to pass along in seven songs.
...And a Time to Dance Review
by Mark Deming