Talented LA bass player Marco Mendoza, best known for his work with the likes of John Sykes, and the reformed incarnations of Thin Lizzy, Ted Nugent and Whitesnake, has released a new solo record called Casa Mendoza (Mascot Records), that is filled with R&B, Rock, Jazz/Fusion and Spanish/Latin flavors that make you feel like you have traveled all over the world while taking a spin of this CD. Mendoza melds all of these tones into a 13 track record that dabbles in a little of each form and turns out a decent effort that just misses the mark.
Leading off the record with the Stevie Wonder classic, "Living For the City", Mendoza and band take this in a COMPLETELY different direction, to the point that it is almost unrecognizable, complete with Mendoza providing the vocals that begin with of all things, a Rap! But only after hearing the unmistakable vocal melody line of, "na na na na...na,na,na,na,na….na,na ", do you get that this IS the Stevie classic. Once into the song, musical performances are excellent, with Mendoza throwing some tasty fretless bass lines all around and some nice guitar flash is provided by Brazilian born, Rafael Moreira. Casa Mendoza features both covers and originally penned material, both instrumental and vocal, with Mendoza handling all of the vocal chores himself.
Casa Mendoza completely takes you for a ride. From the all out Fusion goodness of "Circle of Live", to the wonderfully laid back and loungey take on the Carole King written and James Taylor made famous, "You've Got a Friend", to the driving upbeat romp of "Trouble" or the Spanish/Latin vibe of "Suzy Q", the musicianship is just top notch. The glaring fault that I find in this release are the vocals. Marco Mendoza has this "too cool for the room" vibe in his vocal performances throughout the disc, which is over emphasized by a continued over use of vocal shouts, humming, skit scatting and just overall useless meandering to fill in any nook and cranny of silence. The attempt of over soulfulness in his voice is very evident and to this reviewer and comes across like one of the flavor of the moment "divas" who over sings to hear her own voice. This record would have been so much more pleasing with a different vocalist, but it is, what it is. But the vast musical performances help to almost balance out the disc. Close but not totally.
Casa Mendoza is a fun, loose record with both good and just some so-so, flat out average songs, as well. But as you would expect from a player like Mendoza and his band, guitar player Moreira, drummer Joey Heredia, and keys player Steve Weingart, the actual playing is quite stellar. Had this been a complete instrumental release, this would have been a much more enjoyable record for me, but having said that, the record doesn't completely suck either. Give Casa Mendoza a spin for yourself, if not only for the musical performances, and you be the judge.
- Living For The City
- Suzy Q
- Circle Of Life
- Kingdom Of ParadiseAre You There
- Betty Joe
- Crying Out
- Get Ready
- You Got A Friend
- Tu (Bonus Track)