t h e   m a v e r i c k s

it's now ! it's live !

and it's way too short !

Meet The Mavericks, Miami’s answer to the big question - Where’s the fun in rock’n’roll these days? Well it’s here, it’s now and it’s live, but only as an entree. This 'live' mini-album represents a snapshot of The Mavericks doing what comes naturally, playing live and hard, with a rollicking good time had by all. Taken from the last two shows of their 1996 tour, in Toronto and Ottawa, this release, originally available in Canada only, served to fill the void leading up to the release of Trampoline, the next studio album and a lenghty world tour in early 1998.

The Mavericks, firmly based in Nashville aat the time of this recording, were a ‘4+1’ outfit.  A vocal ‘guitar band’, with Raul Malo on lead vocals and guitar, Nick Kane on lead guitar and Robert Reynolds and Paul Deakin on bass and drums respectively The plus one, was the superb multi-keyboard instrumentalist, Jerry Dale McFadden.

The album opens at a sizzling pace with a seven-minute, full frontal assault on their previously Mexican-flavoured, All You Ever Do Is Bring Me Down. Raul Malo, together with Nick Kane, turn up the heat just as the song appears to be ending with some frenzied guitar. Throughout it all, JD McFadden tempers the mix with plenty of playfully inspired organ. This is a true Mavericks' performance and, as expected, is at complete odds with the subject at hand. The stage has been well and truly set.

The temperature continues to rise even more for the next song, an absolutely swinging rendition of Merle Haggard’s; (Tonight) The Bottle Let Me Down. It opens with some ‘girl can’t help it’ guitar licks from Nick Kane and the thoroughly pumping rhythm section of Robert Reynolds and Paul Deakin. As Raul turns on some big and growling vocals, and JD McFadden punctuates with some very fine honky-tonk piano, another classic by the ‘re-modeling team’ has been born. A straight forward, but tough There Goes My Heart is next. This is also the closest that The Mavericks get to a so-called ‘country’ tune on this album, but we’re talking ‘hound-dog’ country here.

From Hell To Paradise, The Mavericks’ signature tune, is the next re-working to elevate the song to even greater heights. This time it is achieved by slowing down the original to an acoustic, Latin flavoured ballad, drawing even more focus to the plight of those who suffered under a politically repressive Cuba in the 60’s. After an emotional pause, in mid-song, it segues into a slow, but solid rendition of the ever-familiar Spanish song, Guantanemera (with the familiar strains of La Bamba and Twist and Shout seep through). We are now in musical paradise, as Raul Malo’s passionate tenor celebrates the new found freedom over some wonderfully rock’n‘cha-cha rhythms and some engaging guitar and piano fills. The Mavericks demonstrate once again, their unique ability to breathe life into a well worn standard, and at the same time, stamp it well and truly with their own brand of musical flair.

The hop-stepping Rancho Grande is next and continues the Spanish theme, while restoring the tempo of the opening songs. As Raul belts out the vocals, JD McFadden once again provides some ‘bonanza’ piano forte, in an all-out duel with the bass and drums. The energy is becoming infectious! The live portion of the album closes with another tough, but straight-forward version of their biggest song to-date, What A Crying Shame; plenty of jangling guitars, smooth vocals and tub-thumping rhythms. This is pure pop!

It’s now! It’s live! … Then it’s all over!

What you’re left with is the '95 studio version of  I Don’t Care If You Love Me Anymore’, as it appeared on the soundtrack to the John Travolta film ‘Michael’, and a desperate desire for the ‘main course’ of the live performances. There was also enough evidence here to support the cause of the full induction of Jerry Dale McFadden into an official member of  The Mavericks. Alsa this was never to be!

As for that main course, you will have to go out and catch The Mavericks for yourselves, next time they are in a town near you !

 © 1997 chris swann