Recordings

-- D. Strauss

SF Spanish Fly
SF Spanish Fly
(Upstairs/Warner)

If you're looking for hard-core Latin hip hop, this ain't the set for you, but if well-crafted new jack pop with a taste of Latin flava will satisfy, then read on. Nicaraguan Octaviano Silva and Texan Milo Pro met in a San Francisco recording studio when Upstairs Records was auditioning singers for a Latin pop duo. Bands designed to fill a marketing niche are often successful though soulless creations, but SF Spanish Fly has the vocal chops, songwriting talent, and good looks to rise above its calculated beginnings.

The double-tracked, a cappella arrangements of Shep and the Limelights' "Daddy's Home" and the Dreamlovers' "When We Get Married" -- staple ballads of oldies radio, and a challenge to any street corner harmonizer -- highlight the release and suggest that these guys can croon with the best of 'em, as in Boyz II Men and other neo doo-woppers.

The rest of the album is crammed with radio-friendly hooks and catchy sing-along choruses of the kind that provide plenty of guilty pleasure. "Anything You Want" and "Girl Don't Take Your Love," both swingin' uptempo chunks o' funk, are made for blasting out of car stereos. Tommy James & the Shondells' "Crimson and Clover" is given a dancehall reggae treatment with a light Latin pop feel; "Treasure of My Heart" is a solid '50s meets '90s swinger in the manner of "Motown Philly"; and "Treasure of Love," the hip-hop ballad that became a regional hit, and led to the pair's Upstairs/Warner deal, is as sweet an adolescent song as you're likely to hear in these overexplicit times. Cynics would dub them a safely ethnic alternative to the gangsta rap that got Warner in hot water as of late; that is, bubble-gum hip hop even C. Delores Tucker could love. If they dump their adolescent group name, they could become the next mall-friendly superstars.

-- j. poet

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