Thee Midniters' debut album was a combination of stomping rockers and soulful ballads that can sound schizophrenic to those who did not experience the band within the context of the East L.A. soul-rock scene, but which came entirely naturally to the musicians themselves. Comprised almost exclusively of cover versions, the group's repertoire was distinguished from outfits with similar ranges not only in the variegated hard and slow attacks, but also in the imaginative brass-guitar arrangements the band brings to familiar songs like "Stubborn Kind of Fellow." On the harder-rocking tunes, the Rolling Stones are a definite influence: the Stones original "Empty Heart" is transformed via a thumping horn-rock arrangement, and the sole original composition, "Whittier Blvd.," is a loose adaptation of the Stones' instrumental "2120 South Michigan Avenue." The ballads are less exciting but still quite atmospheric and accomplished, getting close to a Philly-type soul-doo wop hybrid at points. The best cuts -- "Empty Heart," "Whittier Blvd.," the small national hit "Land of 1000 Dances," "That's All," and "Giving Up on Love" -- are on Rhino's best-of compilation. But if you like that best-of, most of the other tracks here acquit themselves pretty well, like their tough take on "Money," the midtempo blue-eyed soul of "Come Back Baby," and the slow-dance smoocher "I Need Someone."
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