required listening

CD Review

VARIOUS ARTISTS  -  This Is Lowrider Soul 1962-1970

Kent Soul (UK) CDKEND 482

AESOP’S FABLES-Take A Step/BOBBI ROW & the ENGLISHMEN-Why’d You Put Me On/VOWS-I Wanna Chance/BRENTON WOOD-Where Were You/JIMMY CONWELL-Second Hand Happiness/LEE WILLIAMS & the CYMBALS-‘Til You Come Back To Me/BARBARA MASON-Oh How It Hurts/AMBASSADORS-I Really Love You/WHISPERS-As I Sit Here/FOUR TEES-One More Chance/ESQUIRES-No Doubt About It/REUBEN BELL with the CASANOVAS-It’s Not That Easy/WEBS-It’s So Hard To Break A Habit/LOVELLES-Pretending Dear/ATTRACTIONS-Find Me/ENDEAVORS-Shattered Dreams/INTERPRETERS-Be Kind To Love/LOVERS-When You’re Poor/DEBBIE TAYLOR-Never Gonna Let Him Know/CHARMELS-As Long As I’ve Got You/JEFF DALE-Don’t Forget About Me Baby/BOBBY BURN-I’m A Lonely Man/WILLIAM BELL-Crying All By Myself/MELVIN HICKS & the VERSATILES-I’m Just Passing Time

‘Lowrider Soul’ may be an unfamiliar term to some folks out there but certainly not those who have read the definitive book on the subject, ‘The Old Barrio Guide To Lowrider Music’ by Ruben Molina, nor to those long-standing “in The Basement’ readers who will have likely poured over Greg Burgess’ article, ‘Soul Of The Barrio’ in issue #36.  For further enlightenment, over to selected quotes from the extensive 24-page liner booklet, essayed and anotated by Sean Hempsey, compiler of this 24-track delight of ‘Slow soulful jams from the golden age of black music - as adored in southern Californian clubs and cars’...  “...the Lowrider motor car has a very significant rôle in popular American culture from back in the 1970s on Whittier Boulevard when lowriding was at its peak.  Whittier is a wide commercial street that cuts through the mainly Chicano east side of Los Angeles.  On Saturday nights, young Mexican Americans would cruise along Whittier in their lowriders, showing off their handiwork, it took just a little mechanical skill and a few modifications to create somethig they could be proud to drive.”  And with it came the music, not just in the cars but in the dancehalls and over the radio airwaves, shared by the male and female collectors known respectively as Souleros and Souleras.  A look at the track listing here will reveal a mix of the well-known and lesser known, Brenton Wood being a particular favourite on the lowrider scene and represented here with ‘Where Were You’, a slow plodder 45 b-side.  Blue-eyed artists were also far from ignored, this set opens neatly with Aesop’s Fables‘ 1967 Atco outing, ‘Take A Step In My Direction‘ while the genre was totally catholic, embracing soul sounds from across the USA, whether the southern soul of such as the Charmels and William Bell or Philadelphia’s Barbara Mason and the Ambassadors plus, of course, the more local talents like the Whispers - their 1965 Doré recording, ‘As I Sit Here‘ harks back to the doo-wop era - and the Lovers, guys from the Deal Air Force base in Northern California who cut the previously unissued sweet soul of ‘When You’re Poor‘ for DCT Recorders.  (Post Air Force they recorded as the Pacesetters.)  The Larks‘ Don Julian was the man behind the obscure Bobbi Row & the Englishmen, the lilting ‘Why’d You Put Me On‘ being released on Money in 1965.  Drop the laser anywhere here and you’ll find a goodie...  Lee Williams & the Cymbals‘ nicely-orchestrated ‘‘Til You Come Back To Me‘ emanating from Carnival in 1968; the Endeavours’ delicious ‘Shattered Dreams‘ was recorded in Nashville in 1970 and issued as the Stop label flip to an uptempo funk dancer; further excellence from the Esquires and ‘No Doubt About It‘ (Wand, 1968) and a mention has to go to Debbie Taylor, whose powerful ‘Never Gonna Let Him Know‘ gets sterling support from the (uncredited) Hesitations.  This splendid set closes with another previously unissued item: ‘I’m Just Passing Time‘ by Melvin Hicks & the Versatiles was intended for Brass Parrot in 1969 and contains writing and production involvement from such names as Ray Dahrouge and Tony Camillo.  The whole has taken some three years to get together but hope must be for a volume two in much shorter order.

review posted 26/2/19