SUNNY AND THE SUNLINERS
Mr. Brown Eyed Soul Vol. 2
Big Crown Records
San Antonio native Sunny Ozuna has been making genre-defying music for more than 50 years, and his catalog is still growing. Before he graduated from Burbank High School in 1963, he’d already recorded No. 1 radio hit “Talk to Me” and performed it on Dick Clark’s American Bandstand. With his band the Sunliners he produced a distinct blend of R&B and Latin music still being imitated today.
For those uninitiated into Ozuna’s world, you’re in luck. In 2017, Big Crown Records released Sunny and the Sunliners: Mr. Brown Eyed Soul, a compilation of Sunny’s ’60s and early ’70s catalog handpicked by the label owners and Sunny himself. Now they’ve released Mr. Brown Eyed Soul Vol. 2 and gifted us with even more golden nuggets of Sunny soul.
The songs here are very much of their time, full of swooning backup vocals and horn hits drenched in reverb. However, the instrumentation and arrangements subtly shift the context and create a clear Tejano undercurrent. Take, for example, the opening track, “I Can Remember.” The song begins with an isolated Spanish guitar and electric organ, giving way to a lilting horn section. This perfectly sets the stage for Sunny’s tender yet sorrowful voice, building tension until the drums finally hit. When they do, all of the instruments blend together and give the impression of a band that could change directions at any moment — a classic soul singer backed by a group of musicians with an eclectic musical vocabulary.
All of the tunes traverse a broad landscape, ranging from garage rock aesthetic, dancehall swing and string-laden ballads. “Should I Take You Home” feels like cruising with your loved one in a convertible while watching the sunset; “Viva Mi Triestesa” is a beautiful Spanish crooner that you might hear echoing outside of a south Texas cantina; and “I Apologize” contains all the love and longing of any Sam Cooke record.
Whether you’re a longtime fan or discovering Sunny’s music for the first time, Mr. Brown Eyed Soul Vol. 2 is well worth the listen. It is another great addition to one man’s legacy but also an important document in the rich history of Latin and Texas music.
The album is available in both physical and digital formats.
Cover photo courtesy Big Crown Records.