Monday, April 19, 2010

Thee Midniters - In Thee Midnite Hour !!!! (Compilation)

Hard-wailing grooves from Thee Midnighters -- a great link between garage rock and Latino soul in mid 60s Los Angeles! The group have a sound that nicely bridge that gap between the Sunset Strip and some of the lesser-known acts of the East LA scene -- a style that's got plenty of garagey guitars in the mix, but which also brings in some fairly soulful vocals as well -- a blend that helped Thee Midnighters cross over big back in the 60s, and which still sounds plenty powerful today!

Larry Rendon (Saxes, Flute, Piano, Organ)
Roy Marquez (Rhythm Guitar, Vocals)
Romeo Prado (Trombone, Vocals)
Little Willie G. (Lead Vocals, Trombone, Piano, Harmonica, Guitar)
George Dominguez (Lead Guitar, Mandolin)
Jimmy Espinoza (Bass Guitar, Vocals)
Danny LaMont (Drums, Piano)
Ronny Figueroa (Organ, Conga, Vocals, Hysterical Laughter)

Indisputably the greatest Latino rock band of the '60s, Thee Midniters took their inspiration from both the British Invasion sound of the Rolling Stones and the more traditional R&B that they were weaned on in their native Los Angeles. Hugely popular in East Los Angeles, the group, featuring both guitars and horns, had a local hit (and a small national one) with their storming version of "Land of a Thousand Dances" in 1965. Much of their repertoire featured driving, slightly punkish rock/R&B, yet lead singer Willie Garcia also had a heartbreaking delivery on slow and steamy ballads. In the manner of other local phenomenon's like the Rationals (from Detroit), they were equally talented at whipping up a storm with up-tempo numbers and offering smoldering romantic soul tunes. After a few albums and an interesting detour into social consciousness with the single "Chicano Power," the group split in the early '70s, though their legacy is felt in later popular L.A. Latino rock acts like Los Lobos

1. 01. Whittier Blvd. (2:29)

2. 02. Jump, Jive And Harmonize (2:27)

3. 03. Gloria (3:16)

4. 04. Love Special Delivery (2:13)

5. 05. I Found A Peanut (2:40)

6. 06. Welcome Home Darling (2:16)

7. 07. Land Of A Thousand Dances (extended live version) (5:55)

8. 08. Down Whittier Blvd. (2:20)

9. 09. Everybody Needs Somebody To Love (2:42)

10. 10. Never Knew I Had It So Bad (2:34)

11. 11. Empty Heart (2:34)

12. 12. Hey Little Girl (2:44)

13. 13. Looking Out A Window (2:56)

14. 14. Money (3:03)

15. 15. Thee Midnight Feeling (3:08)

16. 16. Devil With A Blue Dress-Good Golly Miss Molly (3:17)

17. 17. Dragon-Fly (3:06)

18. 18. Do You Love Me (3:07)

19. 19. Down Whittier Blvd. (Godfrey vocal) (2:24)
Review by Jeff Tamarkin

Thee Midniters are generally acknowledged to be the most fearsomely rockin' Chicano band to come out of the fabled East L.A. scene of the mid-'60s. Although their chart success was limited to their version of "Land of a Thousand Dances" (an extended live take of which is among the tracks included here) and they were beaten to the punch on that one by fellow scenesters Cannibal & the Headhunters -- the latter's version charted a month earlier and rose higher -- the rest of Thee Midniters' output leaves no doubt that they were the more ferocious band. A few fine collections of the group's limited output on such labels as Whittier and Chattahoochee have previously found their way to market, but Norton typically ups the ante with the most comprehensive set yet, accompanied by exhaustive liner notes by Domenic Priore and a slew of great vintage photos. Although Thee Midniters were known primarily for their sizzling covers of then-current rock & roll and R&B hits, the majority of the tracks here are originals, written by various combinations of bandmembers. The originals (especially "Whittier Blvd." and its cousin, "Down Whittier Blvd.") and covers both show a heavy allegiance to funky soul of the Stax and Motown varieties (great covers of the Contours' "Do You Love Me" and Barrett Strong's "Money"), as well as happening bands like the Rolling Stones ("Empty Heart") and Them ("Gloria"). On both "Everybody Needs Somebody to Love" (Stones via Solomon Burke) and their insane blast-out on the Mitch Ryder medley of "Devil with a Blue Dress/Good Golly Miss Molly," Thee Midniters are simply on fire. On occasion, the group showed a tendency to veer off into what would soon morph into psychedelia, but most of these 19 tracks, cranked to the max with blessed distortion, are unscathed, gritty rock & roll.
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