Back in 2019 Ace’s subsidiary label Kent introduced us here in the UK and Europe to the concept of “Lowrider Soul”. Some smart Alecs did know about it but for most of us it was an initiation – a very pleasant one at that! We learned that “Lowrider Soul” began years ago in Mexican, Central and South American migrant areas in and around East Los Angeles. In their clubs and neighbourhood bars, the locals preferred to play and listen to a very particular kind of soul – chiefly sweet and nostalgic (60s and 70s) love ballads (harmonic, romantic “slow jams” I guess). The “Lowrider” tag come from the fact that many members of this slower soul loving community often cruised the streets (windows down, radio playing that very music) in classic, customised US autos – Lowriders!
To pin the genre down, Ace/Kent issued a wonderful compilation of typical Lowrider tunes. Compiled by UK DJ Sean Hamspey and California’s Ruben Molina it offered a sweet and lovely overview of the whole scene. (Sean is something of a Lowrider expert and he runs the Diggin’ Deep soul label while Ruben, operates in the Lowrider heartland of South California. He’s written the definitive book on the genre and fronts the Southern Soul Spinners DJ collective.) Their Lowrider album became one of Ace/Kent’s best sellers of 2019 (particularly popular in Japan!), so, logically, the label commissioned a second volume and ‘THIS IS LOWRIDER SOUL Vol.2’ has just won release.
Again, with input by Hampsey and Molina, this new 24 tracker offers more of the same balladic soul – much of it offered by artists who don’t even merit a footnote in soul histories. I guess the most famous performers here are the Manhattans. Their cut is 1965’s ‘Follow Your Heart’ which they cut for the Carnival label. Soul connoisseurs will recognize names like Lee Williams and the Cymbals, Darrow Fletcher, the Persians, the Larks and, naturally, Barbara Mason. (pictured left). The Philly songbird is often seen as “the Queen of Lowrider Soul” and her contribution here is ‘You Never Loved Me At All’ – a classic slice of 60s Philly balladeering! By coincided Ms Mason’s best known song, ‘Yes, I’m Ready’, is included in a great male-led version by Cleveland group, the Hesitations.
By the way, hidden amongst the 24 cuts is another very famous voice – that of long time Temptation, Ron Tyson! In 1967 Ron joined a Philly group, the Ethics and their 1969 ‘Sad, Sad Story’ is one of this album’s highlights – Ron’s falsetto showing why he was eventually chosen to replace Eddie Kendricks in the Tempts!
‘THIS IS LOWRIDER SOUL Vol.2’ is out now via Kent and it really is a delight from start to finish – sweet soul never sounded sweeter! I can think of plenty of real soul collectors who’d love to have this one in their Christmas stockings!
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