Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Sí Se Puede! (1976/2014 re-issue) CD Review

I’ve been a fan of Los Lobos since I was kid when I (along with everyone else on the planet) heard “Will The Wolf Survive.” It was a great song, and with a sound unlike most of what was heard on the radio at the time. But the band had already been around for like a decade at that point.

The band’s first album was a compilation of various artists, and a tribute to Cesar Chavez and the United Farm Workers. Titled Se Puede, this collection features various vocalists performing with Los Lobos. Most of the songs are in Spanish. But even if you don’t speak Spanish, you’ll likely enjoy this music, as its spirit works through more than simply the lyrics. This is a great collection of tunes, and obviously an important album for Los Lobos fans, especially those interested in the folk roots of the band. This is music of and for the people. And next month it will be released digitally.

By the way, though there is no mention of this anywhere, I’m fairly sure this recording is from the days when Frank Gonzalez was the leader of the band (I’m still trying to find out just exactly when he departed the band, but it certainly sounds like him on harp, and I know for sure he was still with them in 1975).

“De Colores”

“De Colores,” the opening track, begins with a spoken word intro that mixes English and Spanish, over some beautiful playing by Los Lobos. “I wish the people knew how the farm worker livesso that we can live in equality.” It’s a moving plea, and after he says “Hope for the future,” the tune immediately picks up, and the band is joined by the Santa Isabel School Children’s Choir singing “De Colores.” I’ve always loved this song, but I don’t recall ever hearing this recording before. “Y por eso los grandes amores/De muchos colores me gustan a mi.” It’s a wonderful track to open the album.

Carmen Moreno

“De Colores” is followed by a fun, positive, peppy tune titled “Huelga En General.” This track features some wonderful vocals by Carmen Moreno. This song has such a great spirit. “Viva la revolucion!/Viva nuestra asociacion!/Viva Huelga en General!

Carmen Moreno also provides some excellent vocals on the gorgeous “Sangre Antigua,” one of this collection’s most powerful tracks.

“Mañana Is Now”

“Mañana Is Now” is the only song on this album that is mainly sung in English. It’s a slower, gorgeous tune, its beauty due in large part to Geree Gonzalez’s vocal performance. Here is a taste of the lyrics: “For too many years we have toiled/In the fields of Northern California/For too long those crops have controlled us/Oh, but we've worked on our knees too long/Yes, we've been on our knees too long.” Also joining Los Lobos on this track is Tierra, another band based in east Los Angeles.

“Telingo Lingo” is a great, fast-paced delicious gem performed by Los Lobos. This is one of my favorite tracks, and features some wonderful playing.

“Corrido De Dolores Huerta #39”

The album’s title comes from the lyrics of “Corrido De Dolores Huerta #39.” Well, it actually comes from the slogan or motto of the United Farm Workers, but that slogan is in this song’s lyrics: "Esto sera nuestro grito/Sí se puede! Sí se puede!" Dolores Huerta is a labor leader and co-founder (along with Cesar Chavez) of the National Farmworkers Association, and the song tells her story.

“No Nos Moveran”

This collection’s final track, “No Nos Moveran,” begins with a steady hand clap, as if taking place at a march. There is then a call and response done briefly a cappella before the song kicks in. And soon you’ll find yourself singing along with the response, “No nos moveran.” The music reminds me a bit of The Beatles’ “Ob-La-Di Ob-La-Da” (in the rhythm).

CD Track List

  1. De Colores
  2. Huelga En General
  3. Yo Estoy Con Chavez
  4. Mujeres Valientes
  5. Mañana Is Now
  6. Telingo Lingo
  7. Corrido De Dolores Huerta #39
  8. Chicanita De Aztlan
  9. Sangre Antigua
  10. No Nos Moveran

Sí Se Puede! is scheduled to be released digitally on March 11, 2014 through Concord Music Group.

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