Malvin & the Have-Nots
Reviewed on this page:
I got this CD for free, my first perk as a record reviewer, and I don't know anything about these folks besides what's listed on the liner notes. My guess, from the huge number of musicians listed, is that this isn't really a band, but Malvin and Grace Cruz-Birdwell and whoever else they could drag into a recording studio.
The band has its own website, where you can satisfy your curiosity about Larry King's rapping ability. (DBW)
Save The Rainforest (1995)
If you like vaguely political, postmodern, world beat-y music that doesn't take itself too seriously, this could be the album for you. Mostly this is gringoized salsa, and musically it's decent: "Time Machine" is a beautiful, jazzy tune, and tracks like "The Band Can't Play" and the salsa-blues "Hard Rock Cafe" swing pretty hard. The musicians sound kind of generic (I can't tell any of the three piano players apart) but they've got plenty of ability. Somehow Malvin & Co. prevailed on TV personality Larry King to come into the studio and recite a few lines about rainforest protection on the title track. The bad news is that King's a better vocalist than Malvin -- Malvin doesn't sing, and he doesn't demonstrate the finesse, power or personality of even a mediocre rapper. Genevieve handles lead vocals on two tracks, and her squeaky cartoon-sexy voice is uncannily close to Apollonia's (that's not a compliment). But Elejai contributes nice jazz/blues vocals to "Hard Rock Cafe," and Michael Palelogos' brief rap appearance (en español) is terrific: maybe next time those two should handle all the vocals, and Malvin can stay up in the booth. The title track lifts the vocal hook from the 80s protest tune "Free Nelson Mandela" (uncredited), and they also do a medley of the standards "Guantanamera" and "Bang-Bang," which provides the album's most amusing moment as they rip off Prince's early 80s sound for ten seconds at the very end of the track. A portion of the proceeds are going to be donated to rainforest preservation groups, if you think buying a plastic disc in a plastic box is going to save the planet. (DBW)
Lemme outta here.