The Whole Enchilida – Burrito Deluxe
With a name like Burrito Deluxe, I was looking forward to a lively mash of country, rock ‘n’ roll, TexMex, R&B, roots and blues reminiscent of Texas Tornados. Putting those styles together became a musical recipe for success. That band included country star Freddy Fender and Doug Sahm and Augie Meyers of Sir Douglas Quintet and accordionist Flaco Jimenez.
Burrito Deluxe also offers a stellar pedigree of players Garth Hudson of The Band, Sneaky Pete Kleinow of the Flying Burrito Brothers, Jeff "Stick" Davis of Amazing Rhythm Aces, as well as Carlton Moody (The Moody Brothers) and Rick Lonow. Unfortunately, what they come up with on the band’s second effort, The Whole Enchilada, sounds like the overproduced country music of the pre-Garth Brooks era. Since that time, artists have employed slick rock flavors that sound as if many of them grew up on Eagles records. Then, there are the alt-country musicians who revel in rough edges.
On Enchilada there’s twang and honky tonkin’ mannerisms and lyrics that relate loves lost and found, and even a contemporary fable of one of the last renegade disc jockeys getting beaten down by the establishment (‘Rex Bob Lowenstein’). But it rarely takes off. An example of how this line up can kick it up a notch is found on ‘Ezekial’s Wheel’ and an intensity that’s exhibited by the entire group. Otherwise, the fault can be found in the thick compression and soul-sucking production for this. There are some moments that break through. Any contribution by keyboardist Hudson makes each number worth listening to. And his solos tend to light a major fire under the normally laidback proceedings. His whirling, circus organ solos come, thankfully, from left field and give the tunes a brief punch (‘Women Like You’). Kleinow’s pedal steel work weaves in and out of the songs with it being featured on the country-meets-Hawaiian instrumental ‘Sister.’
Now, I do find the album’s defiant old school style and cruising speed pace charming at times ("Women Like You" and a breezy take on "The Letter"), but that’s still not enough for me to recommend it. The band has been touring behind this release, and I have a feeling that in a live situation these tunes attract a better chance of stoking a mighty fire. It’s just that the furnace sputters a little too much here.