Music For All Occasions

The Mavericks

MCA, 1995

REVIEW BY: Jason Warburg


[Adapted from a review originally appearing in On The Town magazine on April 16, 1996]

Thank-you, thank-you-very-much. Yes, indeed, Elvis lives—the dark, brooding good looks, the devilish grin, the knockout voice fans swoon over, the daring mix of pop, blues, country and rockabilly into a new musical style distinctive and alone. Of course, since it's the ’90s, this Elvis is Raul Malo, the Cuban-American singer in a butt-kicking little "country" band that has Nashville ALL shook up. my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

And it's a good thing, because both the joy and the entertainment value of the Mavericks’ music stems from their gutsy, stubborn refusal to do anything by the book. In Music For All Occasions, the Mavericks plow ahead from the success of 1994's What a Crying Shame and take things one step further, reaching deep into ’50s blues, ’40s big band and a kaleidoscopic range of ethnic music for new rhythms and vocal styles to graft onto their increasingly amorphous country roots. Doo-wop shows up in “Foolish Heart,” Tejano in “All You Ever Do Is Bring Me Down” (guest-starring conjunto accordion master Flaco Jimenez), and cocktail lounge soul in “My Secret Flame.” “Here Comes the Rain” offers one of the few elements of continuity in their music—another Byrds/Tom Petty chiming-guitars number in the vein of What A Crying Shame’s title tune.

The band's sole weakness lies in the sameness of many of Malo's melodramatic loved-and-lost lyrics; you can only take so many teardrops falling before you want to slap some sense into the guy. Interestingly, the Mavericks in concert turn this single discordant aspect of their music on its head; I've never seen a band have more fun playing for a crowd. I can't say it enough times -- don't miss them. Their killer live version of—and this is not a joke—“The Lion Sleeps Tonight” tells you everything you need to know about this band; they love what they do and recognize no boundaries in doing it. Elvis would be proud.

Rating: B+

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