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Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Malo - S/T

Name: Malo
Album: s/t
Year: 1972
Style: Latin Rock/Funk/Jazz
Similar Bands: Santana
"One-Word" Review:  RockSalsicJazz
Based Out Of: San Francisco
Label: Warner Bros.
Malo - Cover & Back
Malo - Gatefold Interior
Malo - Record

Malo - s/t (1972)
  1. Pana 6:45
  2. Just Say Goodbye 8:00
  3. Cafe 7:21/
  4. Nena 6:28
  5. Suavecito 6:36
  6. Peace 9:21
Album Rating (1-10): 5.5

Members & Other Bands:
Jorge Santana - Guitar (The Malibus)
Arcelio Garcia Jr. - Vox (The Malibus)
Richard Bean - Timbale, Vox (The Malibus, Sapo)
Pablo Tellez - Bass, Arrangements (The Malibus)
Abel Zarate - Arrangements, Guitar, Vox (Naked Lunch,  Zarate Pollace Project)
Roy Murray - (Naked Lunch)
Richard Spremich - Drums (Naked Lunch)
Richard Kermode - Piano, Organ
Luis Gasca - Trumpet, Flugal Horn, Vox, Arrangements
Ron Murray - Trumpet, Trombone, Flute, Sax
Forrest Buchtel, Jr. (Blood Sweat and Tears)
Leo "Pepe" Rosales
Raul Rekow
David Rubinson - Producer, Recording Engineer, Mixing
Fred Catero - Recording Engineer
Jerry Zatkin - Recording Engineer
Coke Escovedo - Timbales
Victor Pantoja - Congas, Bongos
Christopher R. Wong - Personal Management
Jesus Helguera - Front Cover Credit
Victor Aleman - Photography
John & Barbara Casado - Album Design
Chris Whorf - Art Direction
TM Fisher - Laughs & Good Vibes, Roadie

I’ve never heard of this band. I was very curious with the Native American/Mayan/Aztec artwork and I like the reptilian-infused logo on the back. I figure this is going to be 70’s long-form jazzy-jam band songs, probably south-western / Latin influenced based on the amount of songs and the artwork. Based on the artwork, this is not my typical go-to music genre, but I wanted to see what music was represented by the cover.

Album Review: “Pana” begins with an island cha-cha sound (could be Salsa: I’m not good with dance genres). The music immediately creates a vision of a restaurant/bar full of men and women dripping sweat, dancing in low light, and having a great time. The start stop tempo, reminding me a little of TMBG’s Dr. Worm, enhanced with trumpets offers a great Latin American visual. The rolling percussion never lets the tempo stop. There are sections that feature instrument solos, like a bold electric guitar, that only feels out of place is you really listen out for it. The harmonic vocals are relaxing and urgent at the same time. The song feels like more than just a song, it feels like a defining snapshot of its music style, wile maintaining an alive, fresh and real vibe.
“Just Say Goodbye” starts quietly, and is only audible after the first 30 seconds or so. It sets a somber mood. After a minute thirty, the drums/percussion begins, along with a wah-wah funk guitar. The jazzy set up is added to with a crooning electric guitar. The whole time, the song grows louder and faster, intensifying and moving to a very organic rhythm. Only after the 4 min mark do vocals begin, but they only add “Ah-ah-ah’s” as another instrument rather than lyrically telling a story. 5:30 the fast section ends, and a harp whirls us around and sets us down in a candle lit dinner slow jam dance. Minimal instrumentation and a relaxing bongo beat are layered behind Spanish (I’m guessing) chanting which comes off as very relaxing and soothing.
“Café” is more of a slimy salsa song. The guitar reminds me of the terrible song “Smooth” that was Carlos Santana’s song with Rob Thomas. It is repetitive and simple in the vocals and short constant musical sections. It would be ok for a choreographed dance number, since it has no deviation from the singular rhythm layout. When the vocals come back after the instrumental break, they retread the exact same ground that was established uncreatively the first time around.
“Nena” is heavy on the bass and bongos in a short catchy loop as the song begins. The brass section notes the rise and fall of the rhythm with short bursting notes. Then they change into a loud and in your face catchy brass hook. The song reminds me of a Ween song, but I can’t figure out which one…maybe a slowed down “Stallion part 5.” There is a light fife/flute that ads a little disco quality to the song. The song feels like it should end after about 6 min, as it comes to a bombastic finale, but the song surprises you and comes back for the last 30 sec with some hard prog rock.
“Suavecito” is apparently the big hit of this record, and a very popular song overall for the genre. It is a gentle light and airy song that almost feels like a loungey version the Beatles “Should Have Known Better” or at least something from the softer side of “A Hard Day’s Night.” It feels like a romantic walk on the beach at dusk. It is dull, with a little touch of interesting.
“Peace” starts off with a bit of classic rock guitar hook, then it is suddenly shifted to jazzy psychedelic with an organ, urgent vocals and care free flowing music. The bass still carries with it a little funk. This is a genre bending freak-out song, spiritual in the sense that, when enhanced with drugs, I could see people feeling very free and letting loose when this was played out live. This is the song you’d play after the acid is kicking in. The song freezes and picks up with a dream sequence of cloud psychedelic floating. Like the dusty quiet section of Riders on the Storm. The song evolves a little into an Arabian music style. Then it pulls itself together, using the center of gravity that only classic rock can provide. It regroups and launches back into the initial tripped out free form melody. The dramatic, climactic end finishes abruptly just when you think there is one last note coming, the needle picks up and returns to its resting place.

Stand Out Track: Pana


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