Malo (1972) LP


Warner Brothers 2584
Produced by David Rubinson

Recommended ****


At a time when the Santana machine was starting to putter, this band hit the streets with all cylinders firing.  The Santana comparisons were inevitable and there’s plenty here to justify the comparisons, including the fact that lead guitarist Jorge Santana often sounded a lot like his brother, but while the guitar licks are sometimes a dominant part of the sound, and occasionally excessive, this band knew when to cut it out, and even the guitar is an integral part of the groove.  Also, this band clearly had its own horn-driven sound.  This is as much an extension of the music of El Chicano as it is an extension of Santana’s sound.

You can also hear a bridge between two places, Latin America and the Bay Area, picking up influences from East LA along the way.  The hard-driving cuts are contrasted with some laid back numbers, and besides the Frisco rock and Oakland funk elements, occasionally hints of a War influence show.
Beyond the comparisons, this band offers a sound all its own.  While they perhaps don’t deliver any cuts that fit into the classic category, there’s more than enough to make this a highly recommended debut album.  They deliver plenty of variety and fuse a lot of styles, but manage to create a tight sound and a cohesive set, and they keep it going strong through both sides.

— winch (author of Kalamazoo and Junk Like That) Widgets Widgets

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