Maldita Vecindad

El Circo

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AllMusic Review by

El Circo is a landmark album. The biggest-selling rock album in Mexican history, it brought the underground sound of the burgeoning Rock En Espanol movement to mainstream attention. El Circo succeeded because it captured the energy of Maldita Vecindad's ferocious live shows without sacrificing their songcraft. "Pachuco," the fiery lead-off track, became an instant classic (a pachuco is the Mexican equivalent of a Jamaican rudeboy), and from there the album veers all over the place, lyrically as well as musically. "Un Poco de Sangre" is a tragic ode to a doomed street urchin, but rather than turning the song into a morose ballad, Maldita Vecindad plays it as a horn-driven funk-metal jam. "Kumbala" incorporates mariachi and old west balladry into a gorgeous love song. Then, there's their cover of Mexican crooner Juan Gabriel's moony ballad "Querida," which the band turns into a ska-punk rave-up. As disparate as the sounds and ideas are, though, there is never anything forced or contrived here. The band works as a cohesive unit and the album flows from beginning to end. El Circo is as groundbreaking and influential as any album released in the '90s.

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