As music fans, bands find their way into our song-obsessed hearts in a variety of ways and some of the best experiences come about very unexpectedly.
I think we all have those early albums that we remember hearing that were different. They were different, because top to bottom, the listening experience provided a sonic knockout because of the quality of the songs and in some cases, where the band took those songs.
Kiko by Los Lobos hit the mark on both of those points. Spanning 16 tracks, it was a remarkably filler-free listen that found the band reaching new creative peaks throughout. Los Lobos were extremely inspired during the recording sessions for Kiko and that comes through in the vibe of the songs which made it to our ears in album form.
And yet, it wasn’t an easy time for the band. They began the sessions for what would become Kiko surrounded by feelings of frustration. The creation of their previous album The Neighborhood had been somewhat of a soul sucking experience on many levels and the touring process to promote the album would leave the group bleeding money at its conclusion.
As saxophonist/keyboardist Steve Berlin tells us, they entered the process of recording their next album “pissed off” about a number of things, but they had a new approach in mind. They were going to do things their way and that artistic leap of faith certainly paid off. Berlin says they knew when they completed recording sessions for Kiko that they had captured “something that was pretty special.”
20 years after its original 1992 release, Kiko is getting a well-deserved ticker tape parade in the form of two new releases from Shout! Factory. The original Kiko album has been expanded with five additional bonus tracks, including previously unreleased studio demos and live tracks.
Additionally, Kiko Live presents a full album performance from 2006 which reveals how perfectly the Kiko album was sequenced. It flows very naturally in the live setting. Available on CD, DVD and CD/Blu-ray, the video component of this package is an essential pickup. Documentary footage surrounds the live performance of the album and tells the complete story of how Kiko came together, featuring interviews conducted with the members of Los Lobos specifically for this project.
We were happy to get the chance to talk with Steve Berlin to talk about the rich history behind Kiko, the nearly 40 year history of Los Lobos and the band’s upcoming tour with Neil Young.