Madonna's new Maverick label -- A review of new releases from Proper Grounds, UNV, and Candlebox

By David Browne
Updated August 06, 1993 at 04:00 AM EDT

Madonna’s new Maverick label

As a record mogul, Madonna makes a pretty good performer. That’s the only conclusion one can reach after hearing the first three releases on her Maverick label, one of the results of her multimillion-dollar deal with Time Warner in 1992. Maverick got off to a less than auspicious start early this year with its first release, Downtown Circus Gang, by the interracial band Proper Grounds. The album quickly bombed, and with good reason: Its clumsy attempt at mixing metal riffs, hard-core rapping, and folkie guitar plucking was nearly unlistenable. Then came Something’s Goin’ On by the R&B quartet UNV — Maverick’s attempt to cash in on the lucrative vocal-harmony market already tapped by Boyz II Men, Silk, and so on. Alas, all Madonna got was a by-the-numbers new-jack group whose idea of creativity is copping the main melodic line of Bobby Brown’s ”My Prerogative.” Maverick’s latest offering — and, according to a label spokesman, its attempt to move in more of a ”rock” direction — continues its dreary track record. Candlebox, by the quartet of the same name, sounds like the Black Crowes’ Chris Robinson — at his jivin’, yammering worst — fronting a Pearl Jam tribute band. Like all Maverick records to date, it isn’t at all outrageous, merely mundane. So tell us once again, Madonna — what was the point of starting this company?
Downtown Circus Gang: C-; Something’s Goin’ On: C; Candlebox: D