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Category:    Home > Reviews > Los Lobos - Good Morning Aztlan (SACD)

Los Lobos – Good Morning Aztlan  (Super Audio Compact Disc)


Music: A-     PCM CD: B     DSD (2.0 Stereo only): A-     Extras: C



I admit my first reaction in covering an SACD from the group Los Lobos was quite unusual.  My first thoughts were, “That group from La Bamba?”.  Indeed this is the group from the 1987 Ritchie Valens biopic, but nothing like what one might quickly assume.  Another reaction was from this SACD being issued from Mobile Fidelity Sound Labs, with its superb reputation of delivering the best with the best available means on the format of choice.  I knew that there had to be a reason for why they would choose this title to release as part of their reputable and distinguishable catalog.


The band itself is derived from the influences of The Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, Buddy Holly, The Band, and of course Ritchie Valens.  Yet their talents venture out into Americana, Pop/Rock, R&B, Tex-Mex, Blues, and many others.  Los Lobos is comprised of five world-class musicians in their respected fields, who write their own material with conviction and passion.  Their creativity is refreshing in this modern age of recycled music.  Their 2002 release Good Morning Aztlan could be their biggest achievement to date working with producer John Leckie, who has worked with groups like Radiohead in the past, which explain the crafty and intelligent choices made for this particular release. 


Good Morning Aztlan is strong, powerful, creative, sensual, and most of all impressive to say the least.  It breaks down all the stereotypical barriers assigned to this group and reestablishes them as the talented musicians they have always been.  While the album may not be revolutionary, it is certainly solid, which is more than can be said for most of the industry.  Each track comes through from a different direction constantly taking the listener onto a different journey to a different time, place, and setting.  Moody, atmospheric, nostalgic, and impressionist only define to some degree the magnitude of the selections placed on this release. 


Track Listing (Highlight tracks marked with #)


Done Gone Blue #

Hearts of Stone #

Luz de Mi Vida

Good Morning Aztlan #

The Big Ranch

The Word


Tony and Maria #

Get to This

Maria Christina

What in the World

Round and Round


Sadly this release does not include the bonus tracks of the basic release, which contained two extra songs, Can’t Stop the Rain and Manny’s Bones/Good Morning Aztlan.  The reason for their absence on this release could be attributed to the fact that they are live recordings or perhaps and issue of rights. 


Now onto some of the impressive work that goes into this SACD release from Mobile Fidelity.  First off, this is a reverse compatible SACD, which allows for playability on conventional CD players, since there are CD tracks located on the disc.  The other audio option is the DSD Stereo track, which can only be played on SACD players.  As with all Mobile Fidelity releases the disc has been mastered using the Gain 2 system, which allows for an unmatched extraction from the original masters and can deliver the best possible recreation of those masters.  Add to that the fact that the UHR (Ultra High-Resolution) transfer has been performed allowing the preservation of the original DSD capture to remain. 


So what exactly does all this mean?  Well, simply put…this is the best way to experience this album unless you actually have the original masters.  What you hear on this release is every detail and nuance that was placed there by the band and the engineer.  Since the playback is in straight DSD Stereo the mix never ventures with a surround feel that has been associated with much of music today with formats like DVD-Audio, DVD-Video, and even other SACD’s.  Instead, the mix is tough and fierce pushing all the sound through the left and right channels with relentless activity.  The mix becomes subtle when needed and elaborate when appropriate. 


I guess it is just another case of not judging a book (or band) by its cover.  This SACD comes across as a shear delight and only adds weight to an already well-established catalog that Mobile Fidelity is quickly starting with the SACD format.  The majority of the impressiveness of Good Morning Aztlan can be directly attributed to the quality and performance of the SACD.  Liner notes also accompany lyrics inside the booklet, which cover some of the biographical and technical elements of putting together this release.



-   Nate Goss


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