Los Lobos - By the Light of the Moon (1987)
By the Light of the Moon is in some way two different albums in one. The leading songwriters for the band, David Hidalgo and Cesar Rosas, seemed to approach their individual songs on the band's third full-length LP from opposite directions. Hidalgo wrote more reflective songs while Rosas wrote slightly more sonically bombastic material. While Hidalgo wrote tracks like "One Time One Night," Rosas was creating "Shakin’ Shakin’ Shakes."
But while the album almost seems a bit disjointed at times because of the two approaches, the band is, of course, the same for whoever is writing the tracks. And that's why this album, and Los Lobos, should belong in your collection. The instrumentalists play extremely well off of each other no matter the subgenre the song might belong to.
It's also probably not inconsequential that the same year the band was recording this album, they were also recording tracks for the La Bamba soundtrack. While the band still held on to their previous musical themes, La Bamba's more guitar-driven music may have bled into By the Light of the Moon highlighting more traditional Latin instruments as much. It would be interesting to hear what a remix of this album would be with the accordina playing more of a part as it did on the band's previous two albums.
There is one stark difference between By the Light of the Moon and La Bamba, however, and that is the lyrical themes. By the Light of the Moon is a look into being a minority in Ronald Reagan's America and how not all are truly equal. The words are really what makes this album so fantastic. The listener gets a clear picture of the people populating the tracks and wants to reach out and help them.