Alanna Nash
June 26, 1992 AT 04:00 AM EDT

From Hell to Paradise

Current Status
In Season

We gave it a B+

Miami has never been considered a hotbed of country music, but the Mavericks might put it on the down-home map. Led by Raul Malo, a Cuban-American with a Buck Owens fixation and a tight, pinched vibrato that carries all the tension of a high-voltage wire, the Mavericks are a rarity in country music — a group that plays with the cohesion of a real band. Their subject matter in From Hell to Paradise often runs a little left of center: The title song details the 30-year wait by Malo’s relatives to make the 90-mile trip from Cuba to the U.S. to escape oppression, while ”Mr. Jones” tells the saga of a homeless man’s return to the house where he grew up. Along the way, there’s the more standard country fare about falling in love and falling out again, including a honkin’ cover of Hank Williams’ ”Hey Good Lookin”’ and Malo’s perfect Patsy Cline-style ballad, ”This Broken Heart.” Some of the group’s writing could use a finer bead, but the Mavericks earn major points for integrating the hillbilly heart of the masters with the consciousness and muscle of the contemporary generation. B+

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