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The myth of The Mavericks

By Jeffrey B. Remz, January 2000

The tongue remains firmly implanted in cheek for The Mavericks. Not ones to always take themselves so darn seriously, the quartet entitled their new disc, "Super Colossal Smash Hits of the 90's The Best of The Mavericks."

Well, yes they enjoyed some hits, but at least at this point one wouldn't quite put them - lead singer Raul Malo, bassist Robert Reynolds, guitarist Nick Kane and drummer Paul Deakin - in the "super colossal" category.

Who knows? Maybe one of the four new songs on their fifth major label domestic release will live up to the billing.

Deakin laughed about the title. "First of all, it's obviously tongue firmly planted firmly in cheek when you go about naming a record, especially a greatest hits or a best of especially with a band like The Mavericks, who try to remain somewhat humble about the successes we've had and also trying to be different."

The band did their research, according to Deakin.

"Okay, how many best of albums (were there), how many now and thens," he says from his parent's home in Mississippi. "We did a search, and there were 188 now and thens. We also thought about the fact...we've only had one Top 10 hit and that was number 10 - 'All You Ever Do Is Bring Me Down.'"

Deakin had an idea for an album title that may have gained a lot of sales and a lot more anger from record buyers, but, hey, it was only a joke.

"The original title I came up with, the record label didn't go for - 'The Best of Dixie Chicks' (with) in real small letters, 'The Best of The Mavericks.' It was just a joke."

The Mavericks started off playing country and eventually veered towards Roy Orbison-styled pop, Tex-Mex, pop and lounge music. Along the way, the quartet saw its star rise and then no longer found a home on country radio.

They also switched record labels, going from MCA, which put out their last album, "Trampoline," to Mercury for "Super Colossal..."

Deakin says he thinks "Trampoline" was one of the band's "best records" but, "we weren't happy with those (sales) numbers. We know in the U.S. we made a record that was very uncategorizable."

"Leaving MCA was just the end of a marriage that had some good years," says Deakin. "There were some things that I'm not pleased with. A lot of the people when we started there who had the necessary vision to work The Mavs were gone. A lot of the people left there - not everyone - had the mentality of working the same product, a cookie cutter way they did things. You obviously have to go outside the lines to work a band like The Mavs for promotion and marketing."

"There were many many happy years at MCA, and they did right by us. They got a band played when it shouldn't have been."

"Being at Mercury has given us new hopes and fervor. It feels like when we were starting out again. It really does help a band. It got to a point where it matters what we put out - whether it's going to fly."

It's been a long time from The Mavericks start in Miami to the greatest hits package.

Reynolds, who was into Hank and Elvis, and Deakin, a University of Miami graduate, became friends and eventually busked in Europe together. But it wasn't until they hit their late 20's that Deakin, a self-described "late bloomer," who played in punk and funk bands, decided country was their bag.

They hooked up with Malo and played their home territory, releasing an indy album on a small Miami label.

The release found its way to Music Row.

The Mavericks' MCA debut, "From Hell to Paradise," came out in 1992. The Malo-penned autobiographical title track describes the struggle for freedom by Cubans leaving their homeland as Malo's family did in 1959.

The disc, however, received little attention. A cover of Hank Williams' "Hey Good Lookin'" sank on the charts.

But they were back two years later, breaking out with "What a Crying Shame," with musical references to Elvis and Bakersfield. Several songs received much airplay, including "There Goes My Heart." "O What a Thrill" and the title cut. The release went platinum.

Not content to tread water musically, The Mavs went lounge for 1995's "Music For All Occasions." The album also contained "All You Ever Do Is Bring Me Down," a Tex-Mex song with Flaco Jimenez and a reprise of Frank and Nancy Sinatra's "Something Stupid" with Malo and Trisha Yearwood, who would later become Reynolds wife.

(The two announced plans to divorce several months ago, but Deakin says he thinks that will not have any negative effect on the band or the possibility of recording again with Yearwood)

In 1995 and 1996, The Mavs won vocal group honors from the Country Music Association.

"Trampoline" was even more different, getting further away from the country sound with gospel, blues, Tex-Mex and a touch of country.

The album was done towards the latter part of a one-year break from touring, during which time Deakin says the band "burnt out."

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