I assume that most of you have heard the classic soul hit by War from 1975 called “Lowrider.” If not, you should skip to the end of this review and watch the promo video from this iconic hit song which will give you an idea about what the lowrider scene is about.
But it goes back much further to the 1940s and 1950s. From the Wiki, we learn
“The lowrider car serves no practical purpose. Lowrider car culture began in Los Angeles, California in the mid-to-late 1940s and during the post-war prosperity of the 1950s. Initially, some Mexican-American youths lowered blocks, cut spring coils, z’ed the frames and dropped spindles. The aim of the low-riders is to cruise as slowly as possible, “Low and Slow” being their motto. By redesigning these cars in ways that go against their intended purposes and in painting their cars so that they reflect and hold meanings from Mexican-American culture, low-riders create cultural and political statements that go against the more prevalent Anglo culture.”
Lowrider culture grew and through the 1970s had an initial peak. By the 1990s, low-riders were associated with West Coast hip hop and its even expanded to Japan! And I know it is alive and well in California as I’ve seen massive lowrider parades happening in some small cities near Monterey and Santa Cruz, safe spots where people clearly want to have fun showing off their cars. Its fun and makes me want to get my own lowrider someday soon!
The music of choice played in many low-riders when cruising is equally low and slow, often from the Doo Wop era of the 1950s and some slow soul jams from the late ‘60s and early ‘70s. And if you don’t know about the joys of Doo Wop music, you owe it to yourself to do a little research as it is one of the backbones of a lot of pop, soul and rock ’n roll sounds as we know them today, often popping up in seemingly unexpected places — Frank Zappa and Lou Reed were huge Doo Wop fans!
I’m using all this history to set up my review of a new release that came out on Record Store Day which you may have overlooked if you weren’t up on the vibe. Dedicated To You : Lowrider Love is a pleasant surprise from the good folks at Craft Recordings, culled from the archives of legendary labels in the catalog of parent company Concord Music, including Vee Jay, Fania, Double Shot Records and more.
Mastered by George Horn and Anne-Marie Suenram at Fantasy Studios the album is a fun listen, presenting a lot of sides I’ve not heard before. I really liked The Tempree’s slow 1972 take on the classic “Dedicated To The One I Love.”
Ralph Robles’ version of The Chantels’ “Maybe” is beautiful. “Oh What A Night” by The Dells is a classic and an early Curtis Mayfield side from the Abner Records label is a special treat, “That You Love Me.”
So, all this is great on its own. However, it may also help some of you to appreciate the intrinsic value of a curated set of rare sides like Dedicated To You : Lowrider Love when you poke around on record collecting marketplaces like Discogs to see what it might cost you to get some of the original 45 RPM singles included here. The Serenaders’ “Two Lovers Make One Fool” starts at $25 and goes up from there. There are exactly zero copies available of that early Curtis Mayfield / The Impressions single I mentioned earlier. There are two copies of that Ralph Robles single which begin at $66 and go upwards in price!!
The point is: this collection is a great value and it is a fun listen. Plus it looks super cool too — the special smoke-colored vinyl is actually quiet and well centered. So colored-vinyl-phobic collectors needn’t worry.
If you like vintage sounds, Dedicated To You : Lowrider Love should be a no brainer for you to pick up. Of course, all you need now is a turntable in the back of your low rider…