Despite the quartet’s impressive non-mainstream pedigree — Tito Larriva and Chalo Quintana were in the Plugz, Steven Hufsteter was involved with various Kim Fowley-related ventures, including the Quick — Cruzados is a rather familiar-sounding melodic rock album with few distinguishing characteristics and no evident Southwest influences. Perhaps it’s the fault of producer Rodney Mills, veteran of countless .38 Special albums. Or maybe the work these guys did on film scores or backing Bob Dylan on TV made them too slick. In any case, Cruzados is nothing to get excited about.
Envisioning chart possibilities in the post-Mellencamp world of simple heartland rock, the Cruzados replaced Hufsteter and augmented Mills with four more producers (including Waddy Wachtel) for their second LP. With guest appearances by everyone from the late Paul Butterfield to Pat Benatar to Don Henley, After Dark is a plain but solid effort. (Except for Larriva’s “Time for Waiting,” which sounds nauseatingly like the Eagles.)