Malo

Ascencion

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The fourth Malo album continued the drift toward pop that had begun ever since their debut, though it's still hardly a mainstream pop record. There was more material, however, that could make them seem something like a Latin rock band, hipper Chicago or Tower of Power, which is not the greatest of goal posts. New lead singer Willie Garcia, a veteran of recording who had done many records with underrated Latino Los Angeles soul-rock band thee Midniters in the '60s, was a key pivot to their direction, although it turned out to be the only album he did with Malo. The romantic, love-will-save-the-world lyrics got heavy-handed at times, and there was less of the jazzy, multi-sectioned riffing that had typified much of their prior work. Occasionally there was a funk pop tint, particularly to the keyboards, that seemed to be emulating then-current soul sounds by Stevie Wonder, Dr. John, and Billy Preston, though this did more to make Malo's identity less distinctive than it did to get them into the charts. Plenty of Latin roots, however, came through on tracks like "Offerings," which gives much room for speedy percussion and guitar soloing, and "A La Escuela." The album has been reissued on CD as one of the discs in Rhino Handmade's Celebracion box set, with the addition of single edits of "Love Will Survive" and "Think About Love."

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