Much like Britain's northern soul community, the Latino population of Southern California fell for soul music and initially imported many of its favorite songs, but the community also fostered a fertile base of artists by the mid-'60s. Unlike the sound of boogaloo/Latin soul (based in New York City), early brown-eyed soul owed little to traditional Latin music and was rarely performed in Spanish. Instead, rock bands like Cannibal & the Headhunters ("Land of 1000 Dances") and Thee Midniters -- inspired by '50s Latino rocker Ritchie Valens -- earned national recognition playing anthemic rock & roll with an R&B edge. Smooth Chicago soul and Motown hits were big crowd favorites at dances during the early '60s (alongside a rare local sensation like Brenton Wood). When the East L.A. community began gradually moving from energetic R&B to romantic soul, the results were some of the sweetest soul music heard during the late '60s and '70s.
Another wing of the brown-eyed soul crowd was influenced by Chicano, the Latino civil-rights movement emphasizing heritage and cultural pride. As a result, bands like War, Malo, El Chicano, and Tierra followed Latin-rock breakout Santana into the nation's cultural consciousness. Brown-eyed soul anthems kept edging the charts during the mid-'70s (a good example being Bloodstone's "Natural High"), but rarely breached the national radar after 1980. Rhino Records' three-volume series Brown Eyed Soul: The Sound of East L.A. remains the definitive document of all the imported hits and homegrown talent associated with the style.