Thee Midniters — “Jump, Jive and Harmonize”: Brace for the Obscure (60s rock)! — October 8, 2022

THE GREATEST SONGS OF THE 1960s THAT NO ONE HAS EVER HEARD

603) Thee Midniters — “Jump, Jive and Harmonize”

This ‘67 B-side of “raucous bluesy garage rock” (Richie Unterberger, https://www.allmusic.com/album/greatest-mw0000592872) proves that white men can’t jump, jive and harmonize. It also drives some reviewers into paroxysms of ecstasy. Which is fine by me. We need more of that these days!

Beverly Paterson is rapturous:

[T]he sensational sounds of “Jump, Jive and Harmonize” . . . without a shadow of a doubt . . . reels in as one of the best songs ever put to plastic. Duplicating the kind of ecstasy and excitement proposed in church revival numbers, the smoking track screams and creams to an explosive cocktail of stabbing fuzz guitars, ear-piercing harmonica trills, and hip-shaking rhythms. Hungry and soulful vocals, complemented by a shouting chorus provide the song with an added groove factor. . . is hot enough to melt the vinyl it was pressed on. . . . A bona fide party raver[, . . it] flawlessly summarizes the band’s affection and flair for writing and performing gritty blues-based garage rock.

https://somethingelsereviews.com/2015/05/18/thee-midniters-jump-jive-and-harmonize/?amp=1

Jonathan Toubin is stoked:

Stone cold East L.A. classic! The[ir] finest recorded moment . . . . What the heck, let’s just say this is one of the most exciting musical performances committed to tape in any genre… anywhere… ever! A heart-stopping guitar riff intro, relentless drumming, blasting harmonicas, heart-stopping dynamics, and the kind of tension and release teetering on the edge of collapse that makes all the best art live way past its time! Like most of the best stuff, now and then, they only sold a few copies! . . . Could it be that records like this are too out of this world and there aren’t enough cool people to buy ’em?

https://larecord.com/archive/2015/05/23/jonathan-toubin-soul-clap-los-angeles-45s-the-regent

Who were these guys. Richie Unterberger:

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. . . . . they were equally talented at whipping up a storm with up-tempo numbers and offering smoldering romantic soul tunes.

https://www.allmusic.com/artist/thee-midniters-mn0000490304

Beverly Paterson adds:

[T]hese cool cats came from East Los Angeles and reigned righteously as one of the region’s finest bands during the 1960s. Astonishingly diversified, Thee Midniters played every stitch of music conceivable, leading them to appeal to both adults and kids. Be it crooner ballads or steamy rock and roll, the band executed its material with style and substance. . . .

And Jeff Tamarkin says:

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.

https://www.allmusic.com/album/in-thee-midnite-hour%21%21%21%21-mw0000558370

Midniter bassist Jimmy Espinoza says “[t]he band is like a melting pot” and then elaborates:

(Vocalist) Willie Garcia came in with the soul ballad, the pop kind of appeal. (Trumpeter) Romeo Prado and (saxophonist) Larry Rendon loved the Jazz Crusaders, along with myself. They liked Frank Sinatra, they liked Johnny Mathis, so we had the legit stuff covered. (Rhythm guitarist) Ray Marquez and myself shared a passion for the Beatles and the Rolling Stones, hence the British Invasion influence. Romeo Prado and myself liked Henry Mancini, Stan Kenton, Maynard Ferguson, hence the lush, classier approach when we approached things like ‘That’s All’ or ‘Strangers in The Night.’ George Dominguez, the lead guitar player, was a self-taught blues guy. He liked Bobby Blue Band and B.B. King. He also came from a traditional background, with the Mexican boleros and the Spanish influence.”

http://albumlinernotes.com/Thee_Midniters_Greatest.html

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