[27 August 2001]
Though they enjoyed a modicum of success in their 10-year run, in the end the Mavericks outgrew their audience with an ever-expanding musical palette that ranged far from their original Orbison-esque retro country.
Arriving on the scene as a critically acclaimed band out of Miami, Florida in the late 1980s, their sound was centered on Cuban-American vocalist Raul Malo and a rollicking batch of original tunes influenced by Roy Orbison and Buck Owens. After a self-released debut in 1990, their first MCA album, From Hell to Paradise, was released in 1992. The beautifully rendered “This Broken Heart” represents that disc here.
The Mavericks next album, 1994’s What a Crying Shame, was their career-maker, eventually going platinum in sales on the strength of the hit title track. Four tracks of this collection are drawn from that effort, including “There Goes My Heart”, “I Should Have Been True”, and their cover of Bruce Springsteen’s “All That Heaven Will Allow.”
From there, the band indulged in a bit of swing and pop tomfoolery on 1995’s Music for All Occasions, which contributes a pair of songs here, including “Here Comes the Rain” and the tejano-flavored “All You Ever Do Is Bring Me Down”. That latter tune would prove to be a harbinger of different sounds to come from the band on what would prove to be their final album of new material. Tying in with the more pop sounds to come, this collection includes the band’s take on the classic “Blue Moon”, originally released on the Apollo 13 soundtrack in 1995.
Trampoline, released in 1998, was where the Mavericks got off the contemporary country roller coaster and went wholeheartedly into doing their own thing. It wasn’t really that much of a departure from past efforts, though the mariachi-style horns of the single, “Dance the Night Away”, made them a tough sell at country radio. So tough, in fact, that the band was turned over to the pop and rock division of MCA to see if they could make a commercial dent on that side of the radio fence. The only headway they made was overseas, where typically broader-minded audiences latched onto the catchy tunes unconcerned with what niche they fit into. New fifth member, keyboardist Jerry Dale McFadden, a roots rock weirdo in the best way, added some significant energy to the proceedings this time around, and his pop tendencies no doubt played a role in the band’s shifting sound.
Like most of the collections in the 20th Century Masters series, the track selection is adequate but incomplete. In The Mavericks’ case, however, one has the option of their full-price best of, Super Colossal Smash Hits of the ‘90s, which contains most of these songs and more. Only get The Millenium Collection if you want only one or two of these songs and don’t feel like spending four or five more bucks to get them.
Though the band’s sales slipped considerably after their early peak, The Mavericks never stopped making the kind of music they wanted to: retro-leaning country that still remembered the roots of rock and roll. Lead singer Raul Malo is still actively recording, with a solo disc that further explores his velvety voice and its full potential, regardless of genre.
Published at: http://www.popmatters.com/pm/review/mavericks-best/