#30: Los Lobos, ‘How Will the Wolf Survive?’ (1984) vs. Green Day, ‘Dookie’ (1994)

Both of these bands would go on to make albums that are more eclectic, ambitious and, to my mind, better (Los Lobos’ Kiko and Green Day’s American Idiot); so this feels a bit like a battle of the B-sides.

That said, they are pretty solid albums. I’ll say this – they’re probably more fun than the other two records I mentioned. They’re both party albums, albeit very different parties.

Dookie is the high school party where everyone crammed into somebody’s parents’ kitchen, funneled dangerous amounts of Budweiser and then trashed the place until the cops showed up. Wolf is the neighbourhood party where the children play in the grass while the dads BBQ and then later, after the kids go to bed, the grown-ups sit around the campfire and smoke a joint.

Dookie is better and more interesting than I remembered. Raw, ass-kicking punk by a killer trio. Sonically, it’s the part of the party when people are trashing the place; lyrically, it’s after the party when you’re stumbling home feeling sorry for yourself and fretting about the future. Teen angst at its finest. Billie Joe Armstrong’s voice is my favourite part – something about it instantly conjures a weird but welcome nostalgia.

Where Green Day have energy and anger to burn, American-Mexican band Los Lobos have ridiculous amounts of talent and depth. Onto their traditional Mexican sound they layer rockabilly, R&B, country and whatever other genre they feel like playing with. They can play any instrument, including accordion, mandolin, bajo quinto (whatever that might be) and saxophone. “Corrido #1” is the most fun you will ever have dancing to accordion (here’s a close second), “Evangeline” uses a light-hearted rockabilly sound to tell a contrastingly sad tale. And the title track is a worthy anthem for an uber-talented band that spent more time than they deserved toiling in obscurity, and the rest of their career known primarily as those guys who put “La Bamba” into Lou Diamond Philips’ mouth.

So what wins? Kiko. But failing that…

JG

WINNER: Los Lobos, How Will the Wolf Survive (3 points)

BATTLE TALLY

80s: 9

90s: 12

EARNED POINTS
80s: 14
90s: 19

Next week’s battle – #29: John Lennon and Yoko Ono, Double Fantasy (1980) vs. Madonna, Ray of Light (1998)

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