Los Lobos's second full-length album was a transitional affair for East L.A.'s favorite musical sons. On their debut EP, ...And a Time to Dance
, and especially on How Will the Wolf Survive?
, Hidalgo, Rosas, and crew proved themselves to be Mexican American roots rockers nonpareil. While "Don't Worry Baby" demonstrated that Chicanos could play hard R&B as rough and tough as any down-South funk-soul outfit (Willie Dixon would be writing songs with Los Lobos by the time of their next album), By the Light of the Moon
is a much mellower, soul-searching affair. The album was released in the era of Bruce Springsteen, the Blasters, the Del Lords, and other politically and socially aware "blue collar" rockers--which resulted in the Lobos dudes exploring similar lyrical themes. "One Time One Night," the opening track, remains one of the band's all-time classics--yet another exploration of the darker side of the American Dream, with some beautiful music (and musicianship) backing it up. And "River of Fools" remains one of the group's most beautiful ballads. Not that it's entirely a "slow dance" affair. Their Motown cover roots shine through on "Rosa Lee," while "All I Wanted to Do Is Dance" spotlights some pseudo-funk, Lobos style. Fans seem to have mixed reactions to this more than any other Lobos album, either considering it their finest or worst. La Bamba
would be next, making them stars of a sort, but the lyrical experimentation on this album certainly set the stage for the musical experiments that ultimately resulted in their masterpiece, Kiko
. --Bill Holdship