Although he barely registered a blip on the popular radar, Joe "King" Carrasco's new wave/Tex Mex albums from the early '80s were fun, frothy, and relatively adventurous party music. Wearing his Doug Sahm badge proudly, Carrasco also brought quirky Devo, Blondie, and Men at Work qualities to his burrito. It didn't always work, and some of the songs repeat the formula with too few variations, but his style remains unique among his peers. This 18-track compilation reissues the bulk of his major-label work for MCA (two albums) and includes two songs ("Dance Republic" and "Kantina") that were not on either one. However, the lack of even the most cursory liner notes or explanation of where the tracks originated from exemplifies the budget nature of the collection. Aspects of the studio audio, in particular the synth and drum, seem thin and dated. But Carrasco's upbeat, perpetually goofy approach will keep listeners grinning along. Reggae, East Indian, and surf join with the Tex-Mex heart of this music, and for the most part this is a successful if limited synthesis of sounds. The knowingly cheesy slant is part of the overall appeal, but about an hour is all most people could handle at one sitting since, even with a few change-ups, the consistent tone eventually gets tiresome.
Joe "King" Carrasco
by Hal Horowitz