The sound of East Los Angeles is spreading far and wide with the November 29 release of a new 4-CD box set. Land of 1,000 Dances: The Rampart Records Complete Singles Collection, which arrives on Black Friday’s Record Store Day, offers a comprehensive overview of the groundbreaking Mexican-American rock coming out of East L.A. between 1961 and 1991 on Eddie Davis’ Rampart label. The Minky Records release is limited to 1,000 units.
Minky has previously mined the Rampart family of labels via single-CD collections dedicated to a pair of artists that appeared on Davis’ Linda and Gordo imprints: Stompin’ at the Rainbow by the multi-racial R&B group The Mixtures and Music Is the Answer by God’s Children, the early ’70s mixed-gender, multi-racial soul-funk quintet once described as “a Latino 5th Dimension or a Three Dog Night with female singers.”
Rampart impresario Eddie Davis, previously an up-and-coming singer as well as a restauranteur, had his first taste of music business success in 1963 with The Premiers’ “Farmer John,” a remake of the Don and Dewey hit. The Mexican-American group’s raucous revival was a local hit for Davis’ Faro imprint, but he soon channeled his stable of artists to the Rampart banner. Land of 1,000 Dances has 79 tracks, all newly remastered by Mark Wheaton, featuring (of course) Cannibal and The Headhunters’ title track. The 1965 cover of Chris Kenner’s 1962 single became a No. 30 entry on the Billboard pop chart, besting Kenner’s original (which peaked at No. 77) and inspiring Wilson Pickett’s even bigger hit cover in 1966; the Headhunters were selected as the opening act for The Beatles’ 1965 U.S. tour (which included the Fabs’ famous Hollywood Bowl and Shea Stadium gigs).
Another standout single is The Village Callers’ “Hector Parts 1 & 2,” recently heard on the electrifying soundtrack to Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. Listeners will hear a young Barry White as a member of The Atlantics; The Blendells doing Stevie Wonder (“La La La La La”); balladry from silky soul man Ron Holden; and funk-disco from Eastside Connection among the set’s many treats.
In his opening essay for the new box, Luis J. Rodriguez notes that Rampart was Davis’ “dream…of a Motown for Chicano performers.” To that end, he didn’t limit himself to Chicano soul; you’ll also hear doo-wop, soul, R&B, garage rock, funk, disco, and Latin pop. He also signed numerous African-American performers to his label.
The accompanying book for Land of 1,000 Dances has, in addition to Rodriguez’ introduction, an essay from the late music historian Don Waller (author of The Motown Story), and the first-ever discography of Rampart’s single releases. A 38-page Rampart on the Road section showcases rare photos and memorabilia of tour and East L.A. appearances by Cannibal and the Headhunters (who are seen in previously unpublished photos with The Beatles) and other artists. The box has been produced by Michael Minky and Hector Gonzalez, bassist of Eastside Connection and the overseer of Rampart’s catalogue since Eddie Davis’ 1994 death.
Land of 1,000 Dances promises to be a crate-digger’s dream come true. Look for it at your favorite local independent record retailer on Black Friday, November 29, or pre-order from Midhaven at this link!