Los Lobos – How Will The Wolf Survive?

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  • This superb Los Lobos release finally makes its Hot Stamper debut with outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound on both sides – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • Big, rich (for 1984), present and lively, with good weight to the bottom end, this is clearly the right sound for this music
  • We guarantee there is dramatically more richness, fullness and presence on this copy than anything else around, and that’s especially true for whatever godawful Heavy Vinyl pressing is currently being foisted on an unsuspecting record buying public
  • 4 1/2 stars: “… the band’s exemplary taste, musical smarts, and road-tested maturity [is] in evidence on every cut. While rarely flashy, even a casual listen offers all the proof you might need that Los Lobos were a band of world-class musicians…”

This vintage Slash pressing has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records rarely even BEGIN to reproduce. Folks, that sound is gone and it sure isn’t showing signs of coming back. If you love hearing INTO a recording, actually being able to “see” the performers, and feeling as if you are sitting in the studio with the band, this is the record for you. It’s what vintage all analog recordings are known for — this sound.

If you exclusively play modern repressings of vintage recordings, I can say without fear of contradiction that you have never heard this kind of sound on vinyl. Old records have it — not often, and certainly not always — but maybe one out of a hundred new records do, and those are some pretty long odds.

What the best sides of How Will The Wolf Survive? have to offer is not hard to hear:

  • Transparency and resolution, critical to hearing into the three-dimensional space of the studio
  • The biggest, most immediate staging in the largest acoustic space
  • The most Tubey Magic, without which you have almost nothing. CDs give you clean and clear. Only the best vintage vinyl pressings offer the kind of Tubey Magic that was on the tapes even as late as 1984
  • Tight, note-like, rich, full-bodied bass, with the correct amount of weight down low
  • Natural tonality in the midrange — with all the instruments having the correct timbre

No doubt there’s more but we hope that should do for now. Playing the record is the only way to hear all of the qualities we discuss above, and playing the best pressings against a pile of other copies under rigorously controlled conditions is the only way to find a pressing that sounds as good as this one does.

Size

One of the qualities that we don’t talk about on the site nearly enough is the SIZE of the record’s presentation. Some copies of the album just sound small — they don’t extend all the way to the outside edges of the speakers, and they don’t seem to take up all the space from the floor to the ceiling. In addition, the sound can often be recessed, with a lack of presence and immediacy in the center.

Other copies — my notes for these copies often read “BIG and BOLD” — create a huge soundfield, with the music positively jumping out of the speakers. They’re not brighter, they’re not more aggressive, they’re not hyped-up in any way, they’re just bigger and clearer.

And most of the time those very special pressings just plain rock harder. When you hear a copy that does all that, it’s an entirely different listening experience.

What We’re Listening For on How Will The Wolf Survive?

  • Energy for starters. What could be more important than the life of the music?
  • The Big Sound comes next — wall to wall, lots of depth, huge space, three-dimensionality, all that sort of thing.
  • Then transient information — fast, clear, sharp attacks for the guitars, horns and drums, not the smear and thickness common to most LPs.
  • Tight, note-like bass with clear fingering — which ties in with good transient information, as well as the issue of frequency extension further down.
  • Next: transparency — the quality that allows you to hear deep into the soundfield, showing you the space and air around all the players.
  • Then: presence and immediacy. The vocals aren’t “back there” somewhere, way behind the speakers. They’re front and center where any recording engineer worth his salt would have put them.
  • Extend the top and bottom and voila, you have The Real Thing — an honest to goodness Hot Stamper.

TRACK LISTING

Side One

Don’t Worry Baby
A Matter Of Time
Corrido #1
Our Last Night
The Breakdown

Side Two

I Got Loaded
Serenata Norteña
Evangeline
I Got To Let You Know
Lil’ King Of Everything
Will The Wolf Survive?

AMG 4 1/2 Star Review

Los Lobos spent years playing parties, wedding receptions, restaurants, bars, and anyplace else where someone might pay them for a gig before landing a deal with Slash Records, and their first full-length album for the label, How Will the Wolf Survive?, is the work of a band that had learned how to play something for everyone while still maintaining their own musical personality in the process.

How Will the Wolf Survive? swings back and forth from straight-ahead rock (“Don’t Worry Baby”) and potent R&B grooves (“I Got Loaded”) to country-accented blues ballads (“A Matter of Time”) and Mexican traditional numbers (“Serenata Nortena”), with the band’s exemplary taste, musical smarts, and road-tested maturity in evidence on every cut.

While rarely flashy, even a casual listen offers all the proof you might need that Los Lobos were a band of world-class musicians, with David Hidalgo’s guitar work especially impressive throughout. Just as importantly, How Will the Wolf Survive? was the first album where Los Lobos showed how much they had to say as songwriters, especially on “A Matter of Time” and the title cut, two songs that offered a moving and compassionate look at the lives of illegal aliens in America. On …And a Time to Dance, Los Lobos showed the world that they were a great dance band, but How Will the Wolf Survive? showed they were a great dance band, and a lot more besides.

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