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Music Review: The Mixtures – Stompin’ At The Rainbow

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The Mixtures was the perfect name for them. In fact, it was the only name really. In 1960, when Stompin’ At The Rainbow was recorded, the six man group was composed of African Americans, Hispanics, Asians, Caucasians, and a Native American. In the U.S. at large, any sort of meaningful integration was still years, and many bloody battles away. Yet on Saturday nights at the Rainbow Gardens in Pomona, California – the big beat was color blind.

While the racial makeup of the band was extraordinary for the era, it is the music that we come back to. Nowhere is this better captured than on Stompin’ At The Rainbow, which was originally issued in 1962. A pre-Newlywed Game Bob Eubanks introduces the guys over a smoking warm-up vamp, and they blast right into “Turkey Time.” From there the group pull out all the stops, hitting cool hits of the day such as “Peter Gunn,” and “The Peppermint Twist.”

There were a few vocals, usually reserved for the slow jams (gotta give the guys some opportunity to hold the ladies up close), like “That’s All I Ask,” and “Besame Mucho.” There is a school of rock history that considers the years 1960 -1963 (post-Elvis, pre-Beatles) to be essentially worthless. After all, the charts were being topped by teen idols such as Fabian and Ricky Nelson, goes the theory.

Let’s put the lie to that here and now. In addition to what The Mixtures were doing in Southern CA, the Pacific Northwest had kindred spirits with The Wailers, The Sonics, and The “Louie Louie” Kingsmen. There was another band who played “Besame Mucho” nightly for their delirious audiences. Thousands of miles away in Hamburg, Germany – The Beatles were cutting their teeth in clubs playing raw rock and roll (with the occasional ballad) also.

Stompin’ At The Rainbow was a regional hit for Linda Records back in the day, but the group never broke nationally. This despite the fact that they also recorded a total of six singles during their time together. Times inevitably changed, and after a number of personnel shuffles, The Mixtures called it quits in 1967.

Original vinyl copies of Stompin’ At The Rainbow have been prized by collectors for years, and it is easy to see why. Los Angeles based Minky Records have released this classic and have included all six of their singles on the CD as well. The first of these “The Rainbow Stomp (Part 1)” b/w “The Rainbow Stomp (Part 2)” is a sure-fire party on plastic. Their fourth “Poochum” b/w “Tiki” is another personal favorite.

Those JFK years may not have had the plethora of great music that later defined the sixties for most people. But you gotta love The Mixtures. Their racial integration was a very cool acknowledgement that music has no boundaries, and the guys just smoked as a unit. Pick up this lost bit of Americana, it is filled with great music.

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About Greg Barbrick