18 May 2021

Lowrider Souldies

Lowrider car culture, unlike most automotive hobbies, isn't at all about speed or technology, but about aesthetics and cruising leisurely. With that in mind it makes sense that the sound of the lowrider scene is sophisticated falsetto soul ballads.

'There are hundreds of bootlegs out there to sate the ravenous soulero set, and so often they incorporate songs in the vast Numero catalog. Rather than beat them, Numero joins them with our answer to the iconic East Side Story series. Eschewing our classic look and standard-bearing copious notes for sardonic artwork and impeccable selections, Numbero is proud to present a ‘bootleg’ you can be proud of (because it’s all licensed). This time we’ve set our sights on the most unique of soul cultures: the irreplicable melting pot of San Antonio. Included here are all songs never before issued other than in minuscule pressings on 45, never distributed outside of Bexar County limits.' (NG)

'The Southwest Side Story rolas are obscure everywhere in the United States while eliciting intense nostalgia on the South and West Sides of San Antonio to this day. This could be a greatest hits of DJs like Henry Pena, who began his rein in the ’60s and continues it today with many of these same selections. Including such local luminaries as the Royal Jesters, Sonny Ace, the Dreamliners, Al Castana, Dino Bazan & the Dell Tones, George Jay & the Rockin’ Ravens, the Eptones, the Volumes, and Henry Pena, who never fully disappeared from view in the Alamo City. This nicely supplements our other San Antonio collections without redundancy.' (NG)

Southwest Side Story Vol. 19:

1. Sonny Ace & The Twisters - Little Girl 1:53
2. The Eptones - No One Else But You 2:59
3. The Volumes - I'm Gonna Miss You 2:50
4. Henry Pena & The Kasuals - Forever 2:31
5. George Jay & The Rockin' Ravens - Say That You Love Me 1:59
6. Dino Bazan & The Dell Tones - Don't Leave Me Baby 2:34
7. Royal Jesters - Girl I Can't Forget 2:36
8. The Eptones - Making Me Cry 2:34
9. Henry Pena & The Kasuals - Only One 2:21
10. Little Henry & The Laveers - What To Do 2:57
11. Al Castana - I Need & Love You 2:41
12. Royal Jesters - I Want To Be Loved 2:22
13. The Dreamliners - Just Me & You 2:26
14. Danny & The Dreamers - Eternal Love 2:57

'For the lowriders, the souleros, and for any armchair drag racer who still has a record player within reach, South Side Story pays tribute to the aftermarket sounds of soul music, inspired by the record industry’s metric trunkload of cruising compilations, legitimate and otherwise, that soundtracked an entire subculture. This getaway ride mixtape strips aesthetics from the timeless East Side Story series, and poaches music from Chicago soul groups (mostly, of course, from the historically soulful South Side). Tracks never before issued ride shotgun with songs known only from minuscule 45 pressings, with a few chromed-up classics to boot. Roll with a jacked-up masterpiece.' (NG)

'For the lowriders, the souleros, or just anyone with a still-working CD player in their hooptie and a penchant for driving with even a slight gangster lean. Numero pays tribute to the aftermarket sounds of “sweet” soul music still emanating from the West coast, or East Side, depending on your perspective. Inspired by, and paying tribute to the countless cruising compilations, legitimate and (mostly) otherwise, that provide the soundtrack for lowrider and soulero culture, South Side Story is the latest in the Numbero line of takes its aesthetics from the timeless East Side Story series, and its music from Chicago soul groups (mostly, of course, from our mythic South Side). Included here are songs that are completely unreleased, others that are never before issued other than in minuscule pressings on 45, and a few chrome-coated classics, already seen on scads of flash-in-the-pan boots. The Numero Group’s crack team of researchers cut loose on the city of Chicago to assemble the perfect lowriding companion, and the results are unparalleled. From high school rivals The Si-Berians and The Intentions, who both feature their sole recordings here, to unheard material from the original Calvin Harris, to the elite Latino ensemble known as The Mystics, to the missing link in “sweet-as-sugar” Renaldo Domino’s lonely post-Twinight recording, this dazzling collection slices out a delectable cross-section of the city’s sweetest sounds. 13 perfect “souldies” as they are occasionally called, allowing you to throw away any of your many volumes of Gangster Soul Harmony, Lost Soul Oldies, East Side Story, Hood Dreams, Shady Side of Town (or any of the thousands of other similar iterations).' (NG)

Hidden Treasure

'I can't believe that none of these songs were huge hits back in the 70s, especially the gem, "Wait a Minute Girl" by The Newday. If you are a fan of 70s style soul, this is a must have. The vocals are so amazing, I wish I knew something about the people with those voices. I searched around the Internet to find any kind of info on the talented artists featured on this great collection. I found a website called "Popshifter" with an article written by Less Lee Moore.

Below are a few excerpts from Less Lee Moore's article. Enjoy!' --Leesha

“This Is The Ending Of Our Love” was released on the Ricardo label, probably in the early to mid-1970s. You can easily imagine this track turning up in a Quentin Tarantino movie. It’s got a mournful shuffle, outstanding lead vocals and harmonies, and a spoken word break that amusingly sounds like someone trying to speak in a deeper voice than perhaps he is used to and which continues far into the end of the song.

The Mystics started in 1967 on the southwest side of Chicago, and like Wilson Drummer, this was when they were still in high school, playing a lot of dances and local festivals. “That’s The Kind Of Love” was recorded on the Teako label at Universal Studios. It even went to #11 on local radio, but sadly, the band never saw any money from it and disbanded in 1971. It’s a relatively upbeat track that’s heavy on the horns and harmonies.

Named because his voice was “sweet like sugar,” Renaldo Domino, née Jones, was a singer from “The Valley.” His voice is indeed gorgeous and 1972′s “I’ll Get You Back” has quite a bit of funk in its soul.

Formed in the late 1960s but perhaps better remembered for their 1975 Curtis Mayfield-produced single “Super People,” The Notations have two tracks on South Side Story. The first, “I’m Still Here,” was released in 1971 on Twinight Records and hit #16 on the US R&B Singles chart. It’s a lovely track but the squeak in the singer’s voice mars an otherwise great performance. What I do like is how the lead vocal is foregrounded and the harmonies are separated out, which sounds pretty modern for the time period. Their next selection, “Don’t Wanna Be Late,” was non-charting, but it’s actually better than “I’m Still Here” with interesting time signatures and a wonderful string arrangement (and less of that annoying vocal squeak).

You have to appreciate the distinctly unusual flavor of a band called Harlem Meat Company. The “I’m Not Gonna Be Anybody’s Fool” single was recorded on Cash Records and it’s a beauty, with the background singers continuing the story that the lead vocalist tells. He’s got a tremendous, husky falsetto that strengthens the pride and heartbreak in the song’s lyrics.

It’s nearly impossible to find any information on Calvin Harris because the UK producer’s name keeps popping up. It’s a shame because his vocals on “It Ain’t Fair” are great, shifting from baritone to a tenor falsetto. The spoken word break is classic. “Puppet On A String,” a song that was also recorded by locals The Young Souls, must represent Calvin at a younger age, because his voice has a wonderful, teenage quality.

The lone girl group on the collection is Brand New Faces. Their terrific “I Don’t Wanna Cry” was released on Lujuna Records and is apparently based on the same backing track as fellow soul singer Jimmy Burns’s “I Really Love You.” The spoken word break is conversational and matter-of-fact. The self-confidence in this is fantastic. It’s a great change of pace to hear a female soul group and makes me want to seek out more of them.

“Wait A Minute” from The Newday was released in 1972 on Calvin Carter’s On Top label. Carter was the brother of Vivian, who, along with her husband James C. Bracken, founded Gary, Indiana’s Vee-Jay Records in the 1950s. It’s a super catchy tune with great interplay between falsetto and tenor and a terrific bridge.

Originally called The Kaldirons in the 1960s, the unfortunately named The Final Solution’s “Gotta Get Through To You” is the most forward-thinking of all the tracks on South Side Story, hinting at where soul’s future was headed. It’s lush and somewhat reminiscent of Earth Wind and Fire, particularly the ending. Thus, it’s not that much of a surprise to learn that The Final Solution also did the soundtrack for the filmed-but-never-released 1975 Blaxploitation film Brotherman. (The soundtrack is available from Numero Group.)

Donnell Pitman would later find success with his 1986 releases “Your Love Is Dynamite” and the awesomely titled “Chocolate Lover,” which was on Billboard‘s Hot Black Singles chart. Here, his “You Hurt Me” gives us a fluid, heartfelt vocal that almost sounds more 1960s than ’70s and a sultry saxophone solo.

Finally, “Blowing With The Wind” brings us right back to the beginning with The Intentions (originally The Chandelles), who share a member with The Si-Berians. The song starts with an actual flute solo and impeccable, jazzy percussion. This song was originally released on the Tiki label and is very reminiscent of Otis Redding’s “Sitting On the Dock of the Bay” in its tone.

With so much focus on the singers, it’s important not to forget the excellent musicianship on all of these songs. It’s pretty unbelievable that they’re all so obscure. With nearly every band in existence being reissued, repackaged, and repackaged on a seemingly endless cycle, it’s quite refreshing to hear something new to us from the genre. South Side Story Vol. 23 is a must for Chicago music fans, especially members of younger generations who weren’t around when these bands were still going strong. Every fan of ’70s soul music will enjoy this compilation.

South Side Story Vol. 23:

1. The Si-Berians - This Is the Ending of Our Love 2:39
2. The Mystics - That's The Kind of Love 2:42
3. Renaldo Domino - I'll Get You Back 3:28
4. Notations - I'm Still Here 3:59
5. Harlem Meat Company - I'm Not Gonna Be Anybody's Fool 3:08
6. Calvin Harris - It Ain't Fair 5:51
7. Notations - I Don't Wanna Be Late 3:46
8. Brand New Faves - I Don't Wanna Cry 3:00
9. The Newday - Wait a Minute Girl 2:25
10. The Final Solution - Gotta Get Through to You 4:44
11. Calvin Harris - Puppet on a String 3:34
12. Donnell Pitman - You Hurt Me 3:54
13. The Intentions - Blowing In the Wind 3:59

The third installment of Numero’s ode to lowrider souldies, Rust Side Story compiles highly sought after sweet soul singles from the Buck Eye State. Prepare for a low and slow ride from Youngstown to Dayton, Cleveland to Columbus, Toledo to Cincinnati, all soundtracked with silky falsettos and dreamy harmonies. (NG)

From the back of the jacket:

The RUST SIDE STORY volumes are dedicated to the Low Riders and to those who appreciate the "soul type" oldies. Never before has there been a collection of rare and hard to find oldies from the Buckeye state created especially for the Low Rider. Except for the 23 Volumes that precede this. We're pleased to include an offering from the Young Mods out of Dayton. We borrowed this exceptionally rare 45 rpm single from Dante, although he said George might have one in better condition. The Rust Side Story volumes are destined to be collectors items that will love on for a few years before being filed away permanently because the very nature of the songs goes to the essence of the way of the life of the Low Rider. Hopefully we can get more volumes out before the feds raid Blake's house.

Rust Side Story Vol. 24:

1. La'Fez - This Is The Way I Am 3:12
2. Ice Cold Love - Sheer Magic 3:28
3. Young Mods - Gloria 2:52
4. Harvey & The Phenomenals - What Can I Do (To Prove My Love Is Real) 4:09
5. Bobby Wade - Can't You Hear Me Calling 2:53
6. The Soul Superbs - Just Ask Me 4:30
7. Now - Lovin' You Is Easy 2:33
8. Los Nombres - Just Call Me 3:21
9. Iron Knowledge - Oh Love 5:00
10. Foreign Blue Renaisance - Oh Yes I Do 5:32
11. The Donations - I'm Gonna Treat You Good 3:13
12. Unknown Boddie Artist - I Do Love You 2:55