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The Very Best of Lydia Mendoza

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Album Review

Arhoolie Records has put out several collections of Tex-Mex music giant Lydia Mendoza's recordings, though these are usually focused on a certain era or concert from her lengthy career. The Best of Lydia Mendoza, as you'd expect from a compilation bearing such a title, is different from those other anthologies in that it draws from recordings she made over the course of several decades, spanning 1934 to 1982. This might not represent Mendoza's most important work; many would consider her recordings in the 1930s and the 1950s (which do comprise more than half this 17-track CD) her best. If you do just want one Mendoza survey or introduction, however, this is a very good one, and you can always move on to the other more specialized collections in the Arhoolie catalog if you want more. In addition to presenting Mendoza performing both solo with just her own 12-string guitar and (less often) with band accompaniment, it also has a booklet with an informative overview of her life and music, with lyrics to the songs in both Spanish and English. While a little limited in scope — all of the tracks were done in 1934-1938, 1952-1954, 1964, 1979, and 1982 — Mendoza's singing and guitar playing are unfailingly moving, making this a good representation of her huge contributions to 20th century Mexican-American popular music.

Biography

Born: May 21, 1916 in Houston, TX

Genre: Regional Mexicano

Years Active: '20s, '30s, '40s, '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s

Dubbed "La Alondra de la Frontera," singer Lydia Mendoza was an early legend of Tejano music. Born May 21, 1916, in Houston, TX, she was the product of a musical family; she performed with her parents and sister Francisca in a group, La Familia Mendoza, which found success in local variety shows, and her other sisters Maria and Juanita made up their own popular duet act, Las Hermanas Mendoza. In 1928 Mendoza's father spotted an advertisement in a Spanish-language newspaper calling for musical groups,...
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The Very Best of Lydia Mendoza, Lydia Mendoza
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