As the best of the '60s Latino rock bands, it's amazing that Thee Midniters' original sides are only now debuting on CD. The band's minor 1965 chart success with "Land of a Thousand Dances" (quickly eclipsed by fellow East Los Angelenos, Cannibal and the Headhunters, and replaced in the public consciousness by Wilson Pickett's version the following year) barely scratched the surface of their talent.
Equally influenced by '50s doo-wop and R&B and mid-'60s rock, soul, and jazz, Thee Midniters waxed an impressive array of covers and originals, ranging from ballad standards like "That's All" (famously sung by Nat "King" Cole) to blistering renditions of the Rolling Stones' "Empty Heart" and "2120 South Michigan Avenue" (loosely relocated to "Whittier Blvd.") and socially conscious originals such as "Chicano Power."
The band's mix of guitars, organ, and horns was built on a rhythm section that laid down wickedly propulsive basslines and stomping backbeats. Lead vocalist Little Willie G. sang everything from downtempo covers of Jerry Butler ballads and Philly-sound originals to punky covers of Solomon Burke and grade-A garage rockers, such as "Love Special Delivery." The band also wrote Mitch Ryder-styled blues-rock and covered Chicago R&B with equal aplomb.
This twenty-track collection of slow dances and sweat-drenched rave-ups is not only a fine overview of the band's output, it's a stellar party soundtrack, perfect for dancing the East LA favorite, the Slauson!
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