Q - 7/96, p.1513 Stars
- Good - "MAMBO FEVER is self-explanatory Latin and cha-cha, wrist-achingly percussive..."
All tracks have been digitally remastered.
This is part of Capitol Records' Ultra-Lounge series.
Personnel: The Starlighters (vocals); Henri Rose, Bobby Stevenson (piano).
Liner Note Author: R.J. Smith .
Recording information: Capitol Recording Studios, Hollywood, CA (03/17/1950-??/??/1961).
Illustrator: Timothy Eames.
Photographer: Don Miller.
Unknown Contributor Roles: Dave Barbour; Don Swan; Chuy Reyes; John Buzon; Jack Costanzo; Luis Oliveria; Terry Snyder; Yma Sumac; Van Alexander; Billy May; Bobby Stevenson.
Arrangers: B. Miller; Jackie Davis.
When Latin bandleaders popularized mambo in the early 1950s, this set many pop and big band acts scrambling to get in on the action. Mambo Fever, part two of Capitol's Ultra-Lounge series, takes 18 such examples from the vaults, spanning the mid-'50s to the early '60s. Yma Sumac (an exotica singer, not a bandleader) and Billy May are the only readily recognizable names on this compilation, which is akin to hearing competent, somewhat Whited-out derivations of Perez Prado. There are odd touches like Sumac's high-frequency warbles, John Buzon's roller-rink organ runs, and the sheer silliness of Chuy Reyes' "Oink, Oink Mambo." But the results are oddly similar, on one level, to hearing some White bands try to play the blues--in comparison to the most genuine article, it's somewhat sanitized for broader consumption. That's not to deny its considerable fun (if lightweight) qualities; this usually works up respectable heat, in addition to evoking the slightly kitschy '50s mentality that is a necessary ingredient of the space age pop revival. ~ Richie Unterberger