One of Latin rock's most restless, dynamic groups, El Chicano recorded furious Latin jams and gorgeous pop ballads, covering everyone from Van Morrison to Les Baxter to Ray Barretto, and recording some solid original material as well. Though it includes only ten songs, Viva El Chicano! Their Very Best weighs in at nearly 50 minutes, and tells El Chicano's story quite well. It begins with "Viva Tirado," their biggest hit (one that hit the jazz, pop and R&B charts), a groovy re-engineering of the boogaloo grooves of Willie Bobo and Pucho & His Latin Soul Brothers with great interplay between organ and guitar. "The Latin One" gained a degree of fame after being used in the 1997 gangster film Donnie Brasco, and the group's cover of "Brown Eyed Girl" illustrates their way with a tender ballad. "Tell Her She's Lovely," though, is the cornerstone of the group's career and this collection as well, with great group vocals and a breezy summer-day soul arrangement. With none of the group's original albums available, Viva El Chicano! Their Very Best is still the best place to investigate one of the best groups of the '70s Latin rock explosion.
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AllMusic Review by John Bush