In 1957, members of the Lamplighters from Delano, CA, joined up with members of a rival act, the Rhythm Aces, from nearby Tulare (both cities are just north of Bakersfield). They formed a new pachuco surf-and-soul combo called Al Garcia and the Rhythm Kings: multi-instrumentalist Al Garcia, guitarist Art Rodriguez, bassist Freddie Mendoza, drummer Manuel Garcia (Al's brother), and saxophonists Larry Silva and Vincent Bumatay. They continued to play in the landlocked Kern and San Joaquin Valley areas before their popularity spread to more populated areas of the state. Ultimately, they were touring the West Coast, from San Francisco to Los Angeles. The group was put on hold when much of the group were drafted into the army -- Al and Bumatay recorded a single for the newly formed Reprise Records (with producer Ed Cobb) during this hiatus -- but re-formed in 1962 without Silva. That summer they met producer/talent scout Tony Hilder, whose connections among Hollywood-based indie labels enabled them to begin recording. They waxed surf-and-soul singles for a variety of labels -- including GNP Crescendo, Tollie, Northridge, Del-Fi, and Challenge -- under a variety of guises, including the Soul Kings. Exotic and Rockin' Instrumentals, 1963-1964 is a compilation of 13 of the group's instrumental rock & roll, surf, and exotica tracks from this halcyon era. Like many of the acts on the Del-Fi roster -- the Sentinals, the Centurions -- the Rhythm Kings combined Latin rock rhythms, mariachi-style horns, and surf guitar instros. Many instro standards from the band's repertoire are included here, like "Church Key" and "Intoxica"; both tracks were written by the venerable Norman Knowles, band manager and brilliant saxman for the Revels, a fixture on the Central Coast surf music scene. As an added bonus, this fine reissue -- with liner notes by Garcia's friend, Ray Baradat, and color photos -- features both sides of an all-instrumental single by the doo wop-ish Charades, who often played gigs with the Rhythm Kings in the East L.A. area (guitarist Rodriguez was also a member of their lineup, circa 1964).
AllMusic Review by Bryan Thomas
feat: Charades Band
feat: Charades Band