Picks and Pans Review: Reaching Out

UPDATED 04/16/1984 at 01:00 AM EST Originally published 04/16/1984 at 01:00 AM EST


If the 1984 Summer Olympics had an official rock band—and why not, since the Games have everything else but an official pocket comb—Menudo would be an ideal candidate. Both in looks and sound, the five youthful Puerto Rican singer/ dancers who form the band's front line are as cheerful and wholesome as the cast of that '70s roadshow Up With People. In short, they would be a squeaky-clean embodiment of the image, if not always the reality, of the Olympic Games. Menudo is indeed reaching out. The group has already developed a following among non-Spanish-speaking teens. That audience is sure to expand with this album—a collection of Menudo's greatest hits sung for the first time in English. There's also a catchy, pulsating number called Like a Cannonball, which will be the theme song of Burt Reynolds' action flick Cannonball Run II, due out this summer. More mainstream you cannot get. The English lyrics were prepared by Mary Lynne Pagán, an assistant to the group's founder and mentor, Edgardo Diaz. They romanticize, among other things, the Indy 500 ("Thirty-three warriors in their chariots/Go out into the battlefield") and parents (a pretty ballad that begins, "We were born because of love/Gently taken care of/Sheltered with love through the years/And thanks to love, we're here"). Considering that each member of Menudo is supposed to surrender his place to a younger boy when he turns 16 or his voice changes, whichever comes first-keeping the group, in Bob Dylan's phrase, forever young—such a childlike view isn't inappropriate or unappealing. In fact, Menudo might have some of the same appeal as college team sports: The participants are always of a certain age, and their endeavors, though shaped and directed by cunning professionals, brim with the vigor and freshness of youth. (RCA)

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