The second volume of Los Lobos’ Live Recordings series supplies multiple reminders why this is not just another band from East LA. The scholar/academician might look for more background content on the locale of such a recording as One Night One /Time Vol.2, and perhaps some rationale from the band (especially archivist/producer of this title, Lobos’ Cesar Roas), as to why this particular show deserves preservation for posterity. But then again, after just the heavy but limber performances of “Angel Dance” and “Hurry Tomorrow,” the music speaks loudly enough on its own terms.
Los Lobos is one of the few bands capable of maintaining loyalty to its roots without diluting their influences. Accordingly, Bob Marley’s soulful “Waiting in Vain” is a natural match with the group’s own meditation on patience ”This Time.” Likewise, The Temptations’ ” Papa Was A Rolling Stone” makes for an ideal intro to “I Can’t Understand” from The Neighborhood – a songwriting collaboration between Rosas and blues icon Willie Dixon. The roiling guitars that snake through the latter are as balanced in the mix as Conrad Lozano’s deep bass, while the airy sax from Steve Berlin on the former enhances the rich percussion.
Hearing this great group roar through the set-closing version of Richie Valens’ “Com On Let’s Go,” reminds us it’s fortunate Lobos didn’t allow themselves to be pigeonholed as one-hit wonders based on the transient fame they garnered by providing the soundtrack to La Bamba in the late 80’s. The group continues to place prominence to its Spanish roots via “Estoy Sentado Aqui” and “Let’s Say Goodnight,” even though the blues remain a staple, with R&B not far behind in the form of “Hearts of Stone.” This group can turn the simplest melodic and rhythmic figures into delightful combinations: their collective internal rhythm cooks them all together.
In fact, One Time One Night Live Recordings Vol. 2 is so thoroughly enjoyable from start to finish, it’s easy to overlook the minute typo on the back cover as well as the absence of captions on the otherwise gorgeous stage portraits of Lobos in the enclosed CD booklet.