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Reviewed by - Lindsay Planer

Released: September 23, 2003
Origination Year: 2003
Time: 59:30
Tracks: 13
Produced by: John Trickett, Jeff Dean, & Bob Michaels
Style: Studio
Format: DVD-Audio
Enhancement: MLP / Extras

Mavericks’ fans, heads up. The Mavericks (2003) DVD-A is exemplary of how surround sound can make a good thing far better. In fact, Rich Fowler’s warm and rugged 5.1 mix positively proves the benefits of the format, making the listener quite literally part of the aural soundscape. But before we get into the specifics of this DVD-A edition, here is a bit of background on the quartet.

After four years in limbo, as they never formally broke-up, Raul Malo (guitar/vocals/melodica), Paul Deakin (drums), Robert Reynolds (bass/backing vocals), and Eddie Perez (guitar/backing vocals) [note: not to be confused with El Gran Combo co-leader] -- who supplants former member Nick Kane (guitar/vocals) -- reconvened with all the earmarks of their preceding platters. One principal motif is the exceptionally strong writing of Malo, whose contributions evoke both earlier Mavericks tunes as well as Today (2001), his solo debut effort, completed during the downtime between this long player and their previous collection Trampoline (1998).

Indeed many of the melodies feel like definite extensions of the pop-tinged and Latin-flavoured Today. This contrasts the cosmopolitan country reflected in their original sides. It also became the source of The Mavericks' success on both What A Crying Shame (1994) and Trampoline. One of the strongest and most solidifying factors remains the well crafted tunes. Their vibe practically defines the unique crosspollination of country, folk and roots music inherent in the burgeoning Americana scene. The energetic “I Want To Know” instantly sets the tone with a steady-driving backbeat that support’s Malo’s vocals. Speaking of which, there is an almost intangible reed-like quality that recalls the distinct tone of Roy Orbison, especially on the ethereal “In My Dreams” or the scintillating and picturesque ballad “I’m Wondering”. This immediately ties into the breathtaking incorporation of 5.1 surround, as the acoustic guitar and keyboards cocoon the listener, settling snugly into the intimate image.

This understated mix is true for the down-home rocker “Time Goes By,” sporting guest vocalist Willie Nelson. While these subtle treats are contrasted by the atypical orchestration on “San José”, less successful and somewhat jarring is the brash and arguably over-the-top horn section on “Because Of You”, that fails to carve a palatable niche in surround sound. The redux of the Hollies’ hit “Air That I Breathe” -- admittedly, one of the weaker links -- never really gets off the ground. This is more or less a failure to aptly match material to artist. While the idea may have seemed palatable during rehearsals or even on the demo, when compared to the remainder of this album, the arrangement simply falls short. In addition to the eleven songs on the title -- which are presented in both 2.0 and 5.1 -- this DVD-A includes a few exclusive goodies as well. Primary among them is the ten-and-a-half minute “Behind The Scenes” video documentary.

As one might assume, the band is shown in the studio during the recording and production of The Mavericks. The interview segments are candid enough not to sound scripted, while the loose camaraderie definitely translated from the sessions and into the grooves (as it were) of the final product. The concept [read: CMT/MTV style] music video for “Would You Believe” is another of the exclusives and is particularly notable as its been whittled down to under four minutes from the five-plus minute ‘album version’ used on the standard CD and DVD-A. Also accessible from the main screen index are options for lyrics, two text-only “about DVD Audio” panels, a sixty-second “speaker set-up” featurette, as well as four pages of “credits” incorporating the liner note minutiae from both the 2.0 stereo and 5.1 surround mixes.

Track Listing:

I Want to Know / In My Dreams / Shine Your Light / I'm Wondering /By The Time / Would You Believe / Too Lonely / Time Goes By / San Jose / Because of You / Air That I Breathe / Behind the Scenes / Would You Believe (Music Video).

The Mavericks: Eric Darken - Percussion; Paul Deakin - Drums; Chris Dunn - Trombone; Kenny Greenburg - Guitar; John Hobbs - Keyboards; Jim Hoke - Tenor Sax; Raul Malo - Guitar / Vocals / Melodica; Doug Moffet - Baritone Sax; Gordon Mote - Keyboards / Mellotron; Eddie Perez - Guitar; Robert Reynolds - Bass; Jim Williamson - Trumpet; Glenn Worf - Upright Bass; Glen Caruba - Percussion; Matt Nygren - Trumpet / Horn Arrangements; Jimmy Bowland - Alto Sax.

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