The Mavericks have never been averse to putting their own spin on another band’s song. This is a group, after all, who once recorded their own Tejano/surf-rock take on Motley Crue’s “Dr. Feelgood.” Now the Mavericks will release an entire album of covers, Play the Hits, on November 1st via their own label Mono Mundo Recordings.
A collection of songs originally recorded by Bruce Springsteen, Waylon Jennings, and Elvis Presley, it’s a way to further illustrate the eclecticism of the group, says singer Raul Malo.
“As musicians, you are always listening to other songs and you find inspiration and you talk about, ‘Oh man, one day we’re going to record this.’ But other things get in the way. You hear every reason in the world as to why not do a covers record, but now we’re in charge, so if we’re not going to do it now, when the hell are we going to?” Malo tells Rolling Stone.
While the music is delivered with serious precision, the full title of the album — The Mavericks Play the Hits — nods to those bargain-bin compilations that are often for sale in convenience stores on the road. “You see those in the truck stops. ‘So-and-So Artist of Yesteryear Plays the Hits,’ and it’s some awful recording they were forced to do, and they’re selling for 3.99,” Malo laughs. “This is basically our version of that record, but hopefully with a little more care, and certainly more thought put into it.”
The band has already released two tracks off the album, a rollicking take on John Anderson’s “Swingin'” and a poignant reading of Freddy Fender’s “Before the Next Tear Drop Falls. Today they premiere their horn-laced interpretation of Waylon Jennings’ “Are You Sure Hank Done It This Way?” which veers into Joe Cocker’s “Feelin’ Alright” by song’s end.
Malo says the mash-up happened naturally. “I had no idea how we’d do it, I just knew we would come up with something,” he says of tackling the 1975 Outlaw country staple. “We went at it old school, with everybody playing what they thought was gonna work, and lo and behold, we were recording two minutes later.”
Currently celebrating the 30th anniversary of their formation, the Mavericks headlined the Ryman Auditorium last month during AmericanaFest, where they previewed songs off Play the Hits, including a stunning solo take of Willie Nelson’s “Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain” by Willie Nelson. They’re set to embark on the Outlaw Country Cruise in January.
Here’s the track list for Play the Hits, along with the artist associated with each song:
1. “Swingin’” – John Anderson
2. “Are You Sure Hank Done It This Way?” – Waylon Jennings
3. “Blame It on Your Heart” – Patty Loveless
4. “Don’t You Ever Get Tired (Of Hurting Me)” – Ray Price
5. “Before the Next Teardrop Falls” – Freddy Fender
6. “Hungry Heart ” – Bruce Springsteen
7. “Why Can’t She Be You” – Patsy Cline
8. “Once Upon a Time” (feat. Martina McBride) – Marvin Gaye & Mary Wells
9. “Don’t Be Cruel ” – Elvis Presley
10. “Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain” – Willie Nelson
11. “I’m Leaving It Up to You” – Dale & Grace