If Los Lobos has learned one thing in nearly four decades together, it’s that playing by the rules is not for them. They tried it for a while, said no thanks, and they’ve been better for it ever since. The 20th anniversary re-release of Los Lobos’ landmark Kiko album by Shout! Factory on August 21—bursting with bonus tracks and a live DVD in addition to the original album—serves as a potent reminder of why going rogue was the best thing this legendary American quintet ever did.
A rare example of longevity in a volatile music world that stresses style over substance, Los Lobos’ lineup has remained uninterrupted since 1984 when Berlin joined original members Pérez, Hidalgo, Rosas, and Lozano, each of whom had been there since the beginning in 1973.
“This is what happens when five guys create a magical sound, then stick together for 30 years to see how far it can take them,” wrote Rolling Stone, and indeed, Los Lobos is a band that continually reboots itself and expands its scope with each passing year, while never losing sight of where they came from.
“The genius of Los Lobos resides in their innate ability to find the redemptive power of music, no matter the style they choose to play.”
—Rolling Stone Magazine
Through sheer camaraderie and respect for one another’s musicality, they’ve continued to explore who Los Lobos is and what they have to offer, without succumbing to the burnout that plagues so many other bands that stick it out for any considerable length of time. Their influence is vast, yet they remain humble, centered and dedicated to their craft.
Each new recording they make moves Los Lobos into another new dimension while simultaneously sounding like no one else in the world but Los Lobos. As All About Jazz raved, “The genius of Los Lobos resides in their innate ability to find the redemptive power of music, no matter the style they choose to play.”
Prior to Kiko, Los Lobos had been “segregating our influences, treating them parochially,” as Berlin puts it: a rockabilly tune here, a Tex-Mex there, some folk, a bit of country, an R&B tune, plenty of classic rock. This time, they decided to take all of those myriad influences out of their separate boxes, toss them into the air and let them fall where they might. “Whatever our unconscious minds’ response was to the stimuli, that was what we wanted. We let our imagination take over and didn’t try to control it.”