“They became our Beatles: all 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,” says Louie Perez, guitar player for Los Lobos, talking about Latino beat combo Thee Midniters.
The legendary EastLos group is often mentioned with admiration by those who were there in the 1960s, and by rock historians looking for the missing link between Richie Valens' “La Bamba” and the emergence of Santana and War. Sadly, until now, most of their music was almost impossible to track down.
Long neglected during the box-set happy 1990s, the four albums produced by Thee Midniters between 1965 and 1969 are finally receiving the full reissue/bonus-track treatment courtesy of boutique label Micro Werks . Through Thee Complete Miniters: Songs of Love, Rhythm and Psychedelia, now we can all finally enjoy the group's evolution from “Whittier Blvd.” (which takes the Stones' “2120 South Michigan Avenue” for a low-rider excursion) through the local hit version of “Land of a Thousand Dances” (predating Cannibal & The Headhunters' and Wilson Pickett's!) and makeout-friendly vamps on Nat King Cole and Sinatra material, to gutsy affirmations of their heritage like “Tu Despedida” and “The Ballad of Cesar Chavez” (here included in both English and Spanish versions).
To celebrate the new availability of this crucial piece of the LA music history puzzle, Micro Werks and Shout! Factory are giving WCS readers an EXCLUSIVE track from Thee Midniters box set: their final, scorching single from 1969, “Chicano Power”!
Get ready to do the Slauson (look it up!) to some quality LA RnB, after the jump.
Here it is, for your dowloading pleasure, Thee Midniters' “Chicano Power” (EXCLUSIVE for LA Weekly and West Coast Sound!):
“Whittier Blvd,” the song that started Midnitermania!
Says youtube commenter rikkdikk: “Whittier Blvd. had two cruz sections. East LA was the low riders cruz and in Whittier is where us Hot Rodders did our thing. If I remember it was Whitwood shopping center to Bully Beef sandwich place. This song was a huge So Cal hit, I don't think it hit the charts in the rest of the country. If memory serves me right I'm thinkin '66 or '67. Good tomes great memories.”
Here's a Midniters reunion on KCAT led by original vocalist Little Willie G., who also shares a little of their performance history: