The Caliente Column

La Mafia: "Exitos En Vivo"
By Doug Shannon (

La Mafia's new CD "Exitos En Vivo" includes three new songs and their
first new rancheras since the release of "Ahora Y Siempre."  It sets
a new standard in live recordings.

"It's all digital," keyboardist and producer Mando Lichtenberger said.

"It's an extension of our recording studios, Houston Sound Studios.
We have a mobile 32-track digital unit."

Mando added that the first single "Toma Mi Amor" has a similar
style to the rancheras on "Estas Tocando Fuego."

However, the new song that is really bringing people out on the
dance floor is the fast, funky "Nadie."  With Leonard's guitar and
Mando's accordion, it incorporates the "cajun cumbia" style
popularized by Elida y Avante.

The album also includes their biggest hits since 1991, when the
group signed with Sony Latin.  The tracks that make up the album
were recorded in Houston, San Antonio, Austin, El Valle,
Guadalajara, Monterrey, and Mexico City, though the group was
recording songs everywhere it went during its 1994 tour.

In addition, "Exitos En Vivo" has two new studio tracks--an
extended mix of "Me Duele Estar Solo" and a Spanish version of
the Beatles' "Let It Be."

Coming less than a year after Grammy-nominated "Vida," some fans
have wondered whether the more Tejano-flavored "Exitos En Vivo"
represents yet another musical turning point for the versatile

"No," Mando responded, "'Vida' is still doing well.  'Me Duele
Estar Solo' made No. 1 on Billboard.  This is just a live
album that is not going to interfere with 'Vida.'"

La Mafia will also appear on an international tribute album
to the Beatles along with acts such as Ana Gabriel, Magneto,
Ricky Martin, and others.

"We're doing 'Let It Be,'" Mando said.  "It's bilingual but
'Let It Be' is the only line we're doing in English.  This
is a totally new translation done by Manny Benito, who's
written some of our songs.  It had to be approved through the
Beatles' camp by Lennon/McCartney Publishing."

Interestingly, La Mafia is beginning to bear a resemblance to
the Fab Four.  The group's hemisphere-spanning popularity, its
stage attire, and even Rudy and Mando's haircuts recall the
late-sixties Beatles.

A new wrinkle to the 1995 touring situation is the peso crisis,
which has been a plus for norteno groups touring the U.S. but
hasn't been kind to Tejano acts trying to cross the border.

"The peso crisis has made it tougher for any U.S. group to
tour in Mexico," Oscar Gonzalez said.  "It's a matter of who
wants to tour the country and who doesn't.  We're going to
continue to tour Mexico because we like taking our music to
other countries."