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The Mixtures - Stompin’ at the Rainbow

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Artist: The Mixtures

Album: Stompin’ at the Rainbow

Label: Minky

Review date: Mar. 10, 2011

Coming out of Oxnard, Calif., and named for — and marketed with — their multi-racial, cross-cultural lineup, The Mixtures were a tight, energetic rock ‘n’ roll combo that ruled the dancefloor at Pomona’s Rainbow Gardens in the early 1960s. This reissue presents their complete 1962 live album, Stompin’ at the Rainbow.

The album liner notes tell the story nicely. The hard-working band captured the hearts of its community, crossing borders of age and cultural difference to rock the party. A local DJ believed in them and found a manager to help take them all the way to the top — only to find that the world wasn’t quite ready for the band’s … well, mixture.

It’s a captivating story. And the live album itself gives evidence that the Mixtures’ music — a few originals, a slew of covers — deserves being rescued from obscurity. On stage, this was a unit that built its sound on a “good times” Southern California bedrock of simplified New Orleans R&B and surf/instrumental combo stylings. At least that’s the plain description. There are some satisfying twists and turns to be found.

For instance, the sax parts sometimes evince just a touch of Latin flavor; guitarist Dan Pollack is tough and confident, bringing a classic Fender tone to lines that blend T-Bone Walker shuffle-blues sharpness with surf-clean Chuck Berry-isms. Front man Delbert Franklin can exhort the crowd to party hard for a sweat-soaked duration, then follow with a slow and tear-stained soul ballad that breaks hearts all the way at the back of the room. The bass, drums and rocking piano are solid and unhurried, changing things up, but always finding a groove that holds the dancers hypnotized. (The whole thing was captured vividly on tape by a young Wally Heider, who clearly already knew what he was doing.)

Along with the live album, this collection gathers the band’s singles. While the line-up went through a few changes, and Wurlitzer replaced the piano pounding, the party atmosphere permeates those records also, and some of these sides will be fascinating to fans of pre-psychedelic combo rock. But it’s Stompin’ at the Rainbow that documents The Mixtures giving it their very best, stretching out, digging in, and rocking hard for the dancers that loved them right back.

By Kevin Macneil Brown

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