Cinco de Mayo: 5 Iconic Vinyl Records by Mexican Artists
The 5th of May marks Cinco de Mayo, the holiday commemorating the day the Mexican Army won an unlikely victory over French forces in 1862. Cinco de Mayo is a much more celebrated occasion in the United States than in Mexico; after all, it was created by Mexican-Americans in California rather than in Mexico. Cinco de Mayo has become a holiday widely celebrated across the United States, seen as a party holiday akin to St. Patrick's Day, but is ideally used as a time to honor Mexican culture and the way it has helped shape American culture at-large. With nice weather on the horizon, it's a perfect time to break out your Victrola Revolution GO and take the party outside. This Cinco de Mayo, we thought it would be a good idea to take a look at some iconic vinyl records by Mexican and Mexican-American artists.
The eponymous band of legendary guitarist Carlos Santana has quite the discography to choose from, but we decided on his sophomore effort, Abraxas. Building on the modest success of his debut a year prior, Abraxas felt like Santana beginning to come into his own, delivering his iconic brand of blues rock with a Latin flare. The instrumental "Samba Pa Ti" is a highlight, a freeform guitar piece interspersed with Gregg Rollie's organ.
Selena became so wildly popular during her short career, vaulting Tejano music into the mainstream, that choosing just one record proved difficult. Years after her tragic murder, Selena's brother, compiled this record of her biggest hits in order to reintroduce her to the public, specifically to a new generation that hadn't grown up with her music. Ones was a tremendous success, with her most identifiable song, "Como la Flor" serving as the standout track.
"Just another band from East L.A.", Los Lobos had an expansive discography to pull from, but we decided to go with their latest. The band has always been proud of their East L.A. roots, and Native Sons is a tribute to the music of Los Angeles, a covers album featuring Los Lobos' interpretations of tracks by bands like the Beach Boys and Buffalo Springfield. Los Lobos made it a point to open the album with "Love Special Delivery", one of the first major hits by a Chicano rock band, Thee Midniters.
By 1975, Joan Baez was already a giant of the folk music scene. An immensely talented guitarist, singer and songwriter, Diamonds & Rust was also a big commercial success. The title track, about her relationship with Bob Dylan during the early days of the Greenwich Village folk scene, has been covered by artists from Taylor Mitchell to Judas Priest. Baez is a true icon, retiring from music in 2019, but remaining active as a political activist.
Ritchie Valens was born the same year as the aforementioned Joan Baez, but feels like he was of an entirely different generation. Valens was killed in 1959 at just 17, in the plane crash that also killed Buddy Holly and the Big Bopper, or what came to be known as "the day the music died." This record was the only one released during Valens' life, but his musical ability, as well as his youthful energy, made him an instant star. His signature song "La Bamba", helped to shape the Chicano rock genre, and is still widely played.