Part traditional Mexican music, part American rock & roll, part country and R&B and everything in between, Los Lobos’ seven-song minialbum is the kind of hybrid that has steadfastly managed to stay outside of the rock mainstream ever since Ritchie Valens went down in Buddy Holly’s chartered plane. More stubbornly authentic than Valens, “…and a time to dance” is an infectious dance record that deserves to be heard by rock fans.
If this record doesn’t have the torrid, Blasters-style voltage that powers Los Lobos’ live shows, it is an attractive resumé. Aided by a producer who knows border music (Texas songwriter T-Bone Burnett) and one who knows L.A. bar-band rock (Blasters saxophonist Steve Berlin), the group blitzes its way through a pair of jaunty, accordion-dominated romantic laments sung in Spanish, a rollicking cover version of Valens’ “Come On Let’s Go” and four originals. All of the latter are jumpy dance-floor delights; one, “How Much Can I Do?,” lists the sacrifices the singer’s willing to make for his girl’e.g., “I’ll quit hanging around those topless bars”‘before he shouts, “Now, wait a minute,” and realizes that some things aren’t worth the effort: “I can’t see myself/Wasting all my time/Trying to prove my love for you.” It’s a delightfully pragmatic, levelheaded conclusion from a band that spends the rest of the record proving it can throw a terrific party.