Stompin’ at the Rainbow
Minky / Linda
When rock ‘n’ roll still hung out in sleazy clubs and preachers railed at it from the pulpit, it sounded like a cross between Happy Days and a strip club. This juicy historical nugget dates from 1960 and captures a club in downscale Pomona, California, where the Mixtures would sell out the room. This band mixed blacks, whites, and Mexicans, and can still make you jump up and dance. They had multicultural support from local DJs, and that’s how we have an evening’s worth of tracks saved on vinyl. You can slide back into that hot sweaty era with this re-release of 12 live tracks and 12 contemporary 45s by this exciting yet now-forgotten band.
The first half of the disc captures the live sound complete with crowd cheers. “Turkey Time,” “Peter Gunn,” and “St. James Infirmary” are perennial favorites, but the smokiest sounds lurk in original compositions including “One Degree North” and “Surfers Stomp.” Typically the band begins with the verse and chorus, then slides into an improvised jam and work out. “The Peppermint Twist” is in there, but a gang fight might be forming out in the parking lot while we twist the night away. Lyrics are sparse; this is about inciting a crowd to make out, not showing off the leader’s uvula.
Later, we experience the Mixtures’ studio work. The sound isn’t that much different — back then a band played and audio engineers did what they could with limited tracking and an area microphone or two. “The Rainbow Stomp Version 1 and 2” reappears, along with swing numbers like “Jawbone” and the proto-surf sounding “It’s Gonna Work Out Fine.” This fine, fine retro sound provides a solid set of liner notes with DJ comments, a loose history of the band, and gems like “I know how hard it is to please a black crowd… especially when they paid to get in.” The band never did reach outside of the LA area; perhaps due to their racial mixture, perhaps due to pressure from the British Invasion and the music industry’s constant demand for “Something New.” This is “Something Old,” and I mean that in the best possible way.