A blogger/musician named Noah Baerman posted, a couple of years ago, a nice essay on Los Lobos. He also offered his thoughts on the band’s ten best songs. Here is how the post starts:
Do you have any bands or artists who you just love even though they’re not very popular (thus requiring some effort to get and stay hip to their music) or even particularly cool (so, for example, your friends won’t laud your sophisticated tastes as a result)? I have a few of those and Los Lobos is high on the list.
The group began in the late 1970s, a quartet of Mexican-Americans Cesar Rosas, David Hidalgo (both guitarists and vocalists, though Hidalgo also plays violin, accordion, lap steel and other things), bassist Conrad Lozano and drummer Louie Perez. Saxophonist and keyboardist Steve Berlin, the one gringo in the band, was gradually brought into the fold, becoming a full member in the mid-1980s. Aside from Perez transitioning gradually away from drums to being a rhythm guitarist and backing vocalist (replaced behind the kit for touring/recording, most significantly by “unofficial band member” Cougar Estrada), there have been no real personnel changes. Having that kind of stability and longevity is unusual, especially for a group (unlike U2, for example) that is not making gobs of money. For example, although the bulk of their songs are co-written by Hidalgo and Perez (with Rosas writing a significant number as well) all five take equal shares of the publishing proceeds.
Here is the band’s big hit, its cover of La Bamba.