Thursday, May 8, 2008

Malo -- Suavecito (1972)

Why did Carlos Santana become the five-decade legend and Latin Rock pioneer, while his brother Jorge's band just squeak out this one marvelous classic?

Was Carlos' material that much more superior? Was the marketplace only taking one Santana at a time?

In the magical early 70's, when artists were not manufactured from reality TV shows, MTV didn't exist and FM radio was not the playground of consultants and publicly-traded corporations, could a song like this make the Top 40. Looking back, there were so many songs that you could consider flukes, both good and bad, but they became hot numbers because the radio business was different and the public was still absorbing an art form in its early years.

I am not familiar with any of Malo's other material other than "Suavecito" and there's not much rock to it, but plenty of "Latin." We're talking about a mambo, for God's sake, that topped the Billboard chart in 1972! There were no high-up-the-fretboard guitar antics, but tons of guiros, timbales, bongos, congas and shakers. Oh, and that joyful Latin trumpet like a Mongo Santamaria workout.

"Suavecito" was a mid-tempo romantic song, a really out of this world swooner.

Never, I never meet a girl like you in my life
I never, no, no, yeah
I never meet a girl like you in my life

The way that you hold me in the night
The way that you make things go right
Whenever you're in my arms
Girl, you're filling me with all your charms

Suavecito, mi Linda
The feelin' I have inside for you
Suavecito, mi Linda

The feelin', the feelin' that I have inside for you
'Cause ever since the day I met you
I knew you that you were my dream come true
But I think I've found that day
Gonna make you mine in every way

The group-sung "la-la-laaa-la-la-la" hook that is heard throughout "Suavecito" was lifted by Sugar Ray for their 1999 "Every Morning" hit. I once pointed that out to my former staff, since they had never heard of "Suavecito" but they certainly knew the Santana surname.

Enjoy these two clips of "Suavecito" -- 1) a live 1972 performance from the TV show "Rollin'" which shows what a large band Malo was... note the host's mispronunciation of Jorge's name... you may think that's Jorge Santana singing the song up front with his timbales, but that's song composer Richard Bean (Santana was a guitarist), and 2) a homemade video of the full 6-minute version of the song.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

the lead vocalist on this video is Leo Rosales, Richard Bean left the group before the album was released& Leo filled his spot also the conga player is Raul Rekow who is with Santana to this day.check out these links to see them both on stage together a year ago!