When Guns N' Roses released 1993's The Spaghetti Incident, a handful of guys thought it would be funny to clown the hard-drinkin' rock band's awkward collection of punk covers. So these pranksters -- members of the Adolescents, Cadillac Tramps, and the Grabbers -- went into an Orange County recording studio with the idea of adding a shade of brown to some of their favorite punk standards. 24 hours later, Manic Hispanic and The Menudo Incident was born. Led by the Mexican-American ambassador of the blues, Cadillac Tramps frontman Mike "Gabby" Gaborno, the drive-by session included the daft tribute to Social Distortion, "Mommy's Little Cholo."
With Mijo Goes to Jr. College, Manic Hispanic continues its punk-framed comedy ten years later. A sort of Ramones-meets-the-Culture-Clash-by-way-of-Mexican-refritos, Manic Hispanic's third record pulls no punches and manages to pull a few good laughs, too.
After rocking sixteen "brown" covers of the Damned ("Trippin' on Mi Ruca"), Sham 69 ("Menudo Morning Nightmare"), the Clash ("Brand New Impala"), the Ramones ("Creeper Is a Lowrider" and "The INS Took My Novia Away"), the Misfits ("She Turned into Llorona"), and even NOFX ("Cruise"), a couple of obvious conclusions jump out. Punk rock has ventured beyond subculture enclaves and squatted the mainstream long enough for a parody band to not only play a few shows, but sell a fair amount of records. Secondly, Spanglish has spread far enough that this record and its idioms are universally understood. Lastly, Manic Hispanic is running out of good material. While the doo-wop breakdown on the Stiff Little Fingers send-up "Barrio Love" is dope, some of the refritos -- the Ramones covers, for instance -- are uneventful in their straight-up approach.
But what makes Manic Hispanic more than a cover act is Gabby. His delivery, tongue-in-cheek wisecracks, and precise cultural references make another Manic release worth listening to. Otherwise, Mijo would be nothing more than fast, ironic covers à la Weird Al Yankovic. Then again, Weird Al could never pull off "I Want to Be a Cholo."
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