“From the first notes, it sounded like an explosion of sound; We went where the songs took us with a singularity of purpose.
We came in to make music as grown-ups, to make music as men.” — Raul Malo, lead singer of The Mavericks
The Mavericks may very well be the best live band in any of the sub-genres of country music. Sure, over the past decade they have leaned further away from the more traditional country music sounds that they were produced in the early 90’s. But there is no denying that they have become even better with time. The Mavericks are known primarily for their mid-90’s country hits such as “All You Ever Do Is Bring Me Down,” “There Goes My Heart” and “What A Crying Shame”. However, I cannot suggest enough that everyone reading this must go out of their way to hear the most recent releases from the band.
For the Record…
Led by singer/songwriter Raul Malo, the band was formed in Florida in the late ’80s. Malo had previously played in several different bands while he was in high school, as did bassist Robert Reynolds. The pair met at school and discovered they had similar musical tastes — they both enjoyed Roy Orbison, Patsy Cline, Elvis Presley, Hank Williams, and Johnny Cash — and decided to form a band. Reynolds persuaded his best friend, Paul Deakin — who had been a drummer in progressive rock bands before and had done some session work — to join the fledgling country band.
Debut Flopped, Second Effort Went Platinum
The Mavericks’ first MCA album, From Hell to Paradise, was released in the spring of 1992.
Dark and poetic with songs about child abuse, rundown neighborhoods, and the plight of political refugees, From Hell to Paradise won rave reviews for the Mavericks from record critics. But country radio stations failed to play the singles MCA released from the album. As a result, sales of From Hell to Paradise failed even to cover production costs, and the Mavericks found themselves booked into hotel lounges and country fairs. They still had the multiple-record deal, though, and Malo decided his band was well worth preserving. He teamed with some of Nashville’s most successful songwriters, including Kostas and Harlan Howard, and wrote a new group of songs in the time-honored honky-tonk tradition of love lost and found.
The resulting work, What a Crying Shame, brought the Mavericks the exposure they had hoped for. With some hard work by the radio promotions department at MCA, the title song became a hit; the album was certified gold in sales just a few months after its 1994 release. (It later went platinum.) The Mavericks, with new lead guitarist Nick Kane, found commercial success without compromising their rowdy rockabilly sound.
“What a Crying Shame”
“What a Crying Shame” is a masterpiece of reconnoitered inspiration and bucolic soul.
Malo’s wonderfully expressive voice is backed by the casual fierceness of the rest of the band. This is country music with a pop fixation-or, possibly, a pop record with delusions of the Old West. As such, there’s a timeless melodic quality to the music, like Roy Orbison fronting The Byrds. But these direct comparisons are rendered moot after several listens, as you come under its powerfully hypnotic charms and are lost within its rustic detours and back porch ruminations.
Throughout these tracks, the band never once caved to genre exclusivity; they approached the entire recording process openly and without reservation. They weren’t making a great country record-they were simply making a great record. And while there’s no doubt that the heart and soul of “What a Crying Shame” lies in its country upbringing, there’s just as much of an impact made by the way they weave in other genres. They weren’t inclined to merely coast along on the heels of their other records; Malo and the band were looking to completely undermine everything we thought we knew about them, and about country music in general.
Miami Herald music critic Fernando Gonzalez wrote: “The lyrics of the newer songs might be more in the conventional … country fare, but in their delivery, the Mavericks deftly undercut sentimentality with no-nonsense urgency. This band doesn’t exactly wallow in emotion. Malo says his piece and moves on—broken heart or not.”
Up to this day, The Mavericks continues to rock the airwaves with their kind of music. Stay updated with Country Daily and feel free to share your thoughts. Good vibes may fill your days fella!
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