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Celebracion: The Warner Brothers Recordings

Malo

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Album Review

While one has to wonder whether the demand for Malo's product is wide enough to merit a four-CD box set rather than individual reissues of some or all of their albums, Celebracion certainly does a great job of presenting the band's legacy in total. Each of their four 1972-1974 Warner Brothers albums is included in gatefold sleeves, with a 20-page booklet that goes over the band's history with some depth, bolstered by interview quotes from several bandmembers. Two to five bonus tracks are added to each disc/album, though unfortunately these are just shorter single edits of album tracks. There's one previously unreleased cut, "Pana," but that's just an unreleased single edit of the same track of that name that appears on their debut album. Although the albums can be erratic and slightly decline in quality after the debut, Malo, they amply illustrate the band's importance as one of the most exciting outfits to fuse rock with Latin and jazz. Certainly there are similarities with Santana, as might be expected from a band featuring Carlos Santana's brother on guitar. But Malo was more Latin-oriented and sometimes expert at constructing multi-part extended tracks with blistering interplay between hard rock guitar, Latin percussion, and jazz brass. In addition, they could sometimes summon heartfelt, sentimental soul ballads, the hit "Suavecito" being the famous one, though each album has one or two songs in the same vein. They couldn't avoid a certain formulaic quality after a while, and the group drifted toward less-satisfying pop inclinations as time went on and personnel changed, but at its best, this set contains some of the finest Latino rock ever laid down.

Biography

Formed: 1971 in San Francisco, CA

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '70s

When Latin funk and Latin rock had its brief moment in the sun during the '70s, a number of groups emerged. Most were imitation Santanas, but at least Malo could boast that it had a real Santana in the lineup. Carlos Santana's brother Jorge headed Malo, and he possessed a little of his brother's vocal sound. Unfortunately, he didn't have enough to keep Malo going more than a few years. Their debut LP for Warner Bros. reached number 14 on the pop charts,...
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Celebracion: The Warner Brothers Recordings, Malo
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