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The Mavericks

Play the Hits – 2019 (Mono Mundo)

Reviewed by Dan MacIntosh

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When The Mavericks call an album "Play The Hits," It really should be qualified as "Play The Selective Hits" because this band has never been especially interested in performing only what's commercially viable. With that said, though, all these 11 songs are familiar to most pop and country music fans.

Also, whatever The Mavericks play, they play the maverick. For instance, Waylon Jennings' "Are You Sure Hank Done It This Way" incorporates a touch of Tex-Mex accordion and Las Vegas Elvis-styled horns. In some cases, though, track choices fit right into the band's sonic wheelhouse, such as "Before The Next Teardrop Falls," the cover of Freddy Fender's big song. The band covers Bruce Springsteen's "Hungry Heart," which many felt at the time of its release, was one of the weakest tracks on The Boss's "The River." The Mavericks prove how this song is much better than many initially thought, though.

If there's any consistency in the song choices, it's that these are mostly big songsfrom big artists. There's "Don't Be Cruel," associated with Elvis, and "Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain," which Willie Nelson wrote. There aren't, however, many big-name guests on this collection. Martina McBride is listed as featured on "Once Upon a Time," but if you didn't already know she was there from reading the credits, you probably wouldn't even recognize her. Another big, enjoyable consistency is lead vocalist Raul Malo, who sounds to be having the time of his life performing these songs. He is strong and engaged on the quietly sad "Blue Eyes Crying in Rain," and the life of the party on a rave-up "Don't Be Cruel."

If you're going to have an album of all cover songs, you can't do much better than The Mavericks Maverick-izing the hits.