Chicano Rockers Thee Midnighters Get Boxed

 

Massive 4-CD set
chronicles “influential and trailblazing” ‘60s Chicano rock ‘n’ roll outfit
from East L.A.

 

By Blurt Staff

 

Thee Midniters are the subject of a new box set, the most
comprehensive collection ever assembled on the group.  Thee Complete Midniters: Songs of Love,
Rhythm & Psychedelia!
is being released on November 3 on Micro
Works.

 

Here’s the scoop, from the label:

 

When
the British Invasion took the world by storm in the 1960s, it went largely
unnoticed in East Los Angeles, save for a band
of young, Latino musicians.  Thee
Midniters took to the new rock and soul sound with a fervor, mixing it with
psychedelia, big band jazz and some of their own traditional Mexican folk and
found themselves heralded as America’s first Latino rock band, continuing to
influence acts to this very day.  Their
music, history and impact are the subject of a new 4-CD box set, Thee Complete
Midniters: Songs of Love, Rhythm & Psychedelia!
The collection features all full-length albums recorded by
Thee Midniters, as well as singles that were never included on the LPs and rare
tracks that have never been available on CD before.

 

Musicologists often refer to Thee
Midniters as the archetype Latino rock band, but the group’s musical
eclecticism is as much a cross cultural affair as the dynamic era it grew out
of.  “The ’60s weren’t
segregated,” Thee Midniters bassist Jimmy Espinoza said in an interview
with writer Richie Unterberger. “The ’60s were integrated. The whole ‘peace, love, black, white, brown, we’re all
the same’: that’s who we were. We
were a crossover group, and we really loved it. It’s extremely frustrating for
me to get put into the Latin bag, because Thee Midniters aren’t.” 

 

But their Latin roots were
undeniable, surfacing in their garage rock flavored with R&B and soul in a
way that no other bands of the era could do. 
They twisted the Rolling Stones’ “2120 South Michigan Avenue” into a
localized “Whittier Blvd,” recorded the Spanish-language “Tu
Despedida,” “Chicano Power” in 1969 and wrote the powerful
“The Ballad of Cesar Chavez.” 
“We seem to have impacted a whole new generation with our music,
and it’s very gratifying,” reflects frontman Willie Garcia (aka Little
Willie G), who continues to be active as a performing and recording artist with
the likes of Ry Cooder, Los Straitjackets, and Los Lobos, in an interview with
journalist Unterberger.  “Thee
Midniters were the best band around at the time,” adds Los Lobos guitarist
Louie Perez.  “They became our Beatles;
all of the stuff that was going on in Beatlemania, we translated into
Midnitermania. In this microcosm which is East Los Angeles,
this is something that belongs to us. It gave young kids who would eventually
become musicians like myself inspiration to pursue a career in music.”

 

Thee Complete Midniters: Songs of Love, Rhythm &
Psychedelia
showcases the band’s evolution
in chronological order.  Beginning with
their first two albums, Whitter Blvd. (1965)
and Thee Midniters Bring You Love Special
Delivery
(1966), the band’s adoration of British rock was clear as they
chose to record cover versions of their favorite songs.  By the time their third album, Unlimited, was released in 1967, Thee
Midniters had developed the confidence and stunning ability to write their own
material and deepen their eclectic mix of styles.  By the time Giants  was released in 1969,
the band had reached an altogether new era, but one without lead singer Willie
Garcia (who has since gone on to work with Ry Cooder, Los Lobos and Los
Straitjackets).  Each CD in the box
includes bonus tracks such as singles that were not found on any of the LPs,
rare b-sides and previously unreleased recordings such as “Baila Cinderella”
and an instrumental version of “Walk On By.”

 

Thee Midniters included in the box set
are:

 

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)

 

 

 

 

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