Color One Tear Black
November 21, 2016 8:08 AM   Subscribe

The lowrider was born during the mid-twentieth century in the barrio of East Los Angeles. More than just a car, lowriders are the avatar and centerpiece of one of the most enduring Mexican American subcultures. While white American muscle car enthusiasts sought high speed, their Chicanx counterparts were building cars intended to go "low and slow," designed for cruising rather than racing. But what would cruising be without a soundtrack to match? Hazy and soulful group harmony is the music of choice.

Though popular Chicano soul groups like Sunny and the Sunliners and Thee Midniters produced great records in the style, the scene is less focused on creating new music than exploring the seemingly boundless archive of black American records. The early lowrider sound is best represented by the legendary East Side Story compilation series. The songs featured are mostly lesser known numbers from larger label, with a slight tilt toward doo wop. Classics of the scene include hit songs like Billy Stewart's "Sitting in the Park" and Aaron Neville's "Tell It Like It Is" and less familiar numbers like the Vanguards' "Somebody Please" and Johnny & the Expressions' "Something I Want To Tell You."

Today's souleros and souleras favor more obscure sounds. The fantastic Gangster Soul Harmony compilation series is a full ten volumes of moody deep cuts.

Gangster Soul Harmony Vol. 1
Gangster Soul Harmony Vol. 2
Gangster Soul Harmony Vol. 3
Gangster Soul Harmony Vol. 4 (my favorite)
Gangster Soul Harmony Vol. 5
Gangster Soul Harmony Vol. 6
Gangster Soul Harmony Vol. 7
Gangster Soul Harmony Vol. 8
Gangster Soul Harmony Vol. 9
Gangster Soul Harmony Vol. 10

There are plenty of similar compilations, many of which are to be found on the same awesome Youtube channel.

Or you could dig into the world of online mixes. The Southern Soul Spinners are the most prominent lowrider DJ crew. They have numerous mixes on the Dublab site (each word is a different link). Soul and gospel DJ Greg Belson has unstoppable mixes with the Southern Soul Spinners' Ruben Molina and Soulera 5150 as well. Both of those DJs were profiled on recording collector website Dust and Grooves. Lil' Smiley has a wonderful Mixcloud and is working on a documentary about the East Side Story comps. The Sounds of Soul are an excellent DJ crew from the San Fernando Valley. The Gangster Dedications show consists of remarkable long-format mixes.

If you're in the mood for individual tracks, there are a handful of awesome Youtube channels (again, each word a separate link).

For something a bit more bite-sized, here are some of my favorite tracks:

Color Us People Band - A Day Without Your Love
The Four Dudes - My Heart Is Broken
Master/Blasters/Horton - For You
The Arterials - What We Have
The Young Mods - I Can't Hurt You Back
The Soul Reflections - I Love You Baby
The Significants - One Kindness Deserves Another
Heavenly Bound Travelers Gospel Singers - Serving The Lord Well Off
Joy Incorporated - Cryin' For Your Love
Kal's Kids - Long Lonely Broken Hearted
George Scott - I'm A Fool For You
The Icemen - How Can I Get Over A Fox Like You
posted by vathek (14 comments total) 72 users marked this as a favorite
Beautiful post, and curses! I've been working on a post about San Antonio's west side soul and Abe Epstein for ages now. Kudos, vathek! *clicks links eagerly while shaking fist*
posted by Orange Dinosaur Slide at 8:19 AM on November 21, 2016 [1 favorite]

This post is fuego.
posted by Bob Regular at 8:36 AM on November 21, 2016 [3 favorites]

posted by CynicalKnight at 8:39 AM on November 21, 2016

Fantastic. Thank you.
posted by rtha at 9:11 AM on November 21, 2016

posted by box at 9:26 AM on November 21, 2016

I approve this message!
posted by allthinky at 9:52 AM on November 21, 2016

Music so smooth you'll want to go jewelry shopping.
posted by Stonestock Relentless at 9:52 AM on November 21, 2016 [1 favorite]

Amazing post. Thank you so much.

My brother has many of these records as they form the soundtrack of his youth.

My younger brother is a gangster (he has the gang tattoos and murdered friends to show for it alas) and something he once told me is that this music unites all the cholo gangs so much that even rival gangs would take time off from trying to kill each other to meet at what he called "cholo dances" where music was played and all the vatos would slow-dance with their hynas. A truce I suppose mediated by music.
posted by vacapinta at 9:52 AM on November 21, 2016 [9 favorites]

But.. but.. no war ?
posted by k5.user at 10:49 AM on November 21, 2016

Oh, and War's The World is a Ghetto is a great crusin' song. It makes me stop feeling sorry for myself because I renember how bad it was in the 70s.
posted by Gadgetenvy at 11:01 AM on November 21, 2016

I remember in the early 80s in LA, driving home late at night from wherever, listening to KRLA and all the oldies dedications. Of course, some went out to people in prison or no longer with us, but I still secretly hope that someday, someone will send out a dedication to me in a grand, romantic gesture. This is a great post, thanks!
posted by Room 641-A at 12:51 PM on November 21, 2016

Great post. I love this shit.
posted by jonmc at 3:25 PM on November 21, 2016

You can't have a more cooler name than The Icemen! "How Can I Get Over A Fox Like You" from vathek's personal list is a follow-up to "(My Girl) She's A Fox" which features some very distinctive Curtis Mayfield-inspired guitar work by an unheralded picker soon to be better known...
posted by bonefish at 4:50 PM on November 21, 2016

this is a great post. thanks
posted by Foci for Analysis at 9:24 AM on November 28, 2016

« Older Bee movie but   |   You have to deal with the powerless Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments