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Lowrell: Lowrell

Reviewed by Ismo Tenkanen

Rating: 8/ 10

Buy this album from our CD Shop

The original release on US AVI, 1979
1) Out of Breath
2) You're Playing Dirty
3) Overdose
4) Mellow Mellow Right On
5) Mellow Mellow Right On (Instrumental)
6) Smooth and Wild

This is yet another great European CD reissue of a classic soul album that has earlier been available on CD only in Japan. So now you can choose between an over 50 priced Japanese P-Vine copy - or a mid-priced EU Solaris copy. I certainly prefer the latter, especially when the album contains only six tracks, one of them a short instrumental version of the hit single Mellow Mellow Right On.

Mellow Mellow Right On has become a much sampled classic, and with a reason. It is built over a magical two step soul groove, much in the same vein as the later Keni Burke classic Rising to the Top. The single was released in late 1979; the bright disco lights were gradually dimming and a new era of mid-tempoed two steppers was starting. This was really starting a more mellow, more enjoyable period in soul music, with smooth and rich backings full of nuances.

Lowrell Simon himself was a former member of Lost Generation, a vocal group from Chicago that scored a few hits on Brunswick label in the early 70s. On the instrumental follow-up of the hit single, it reads "featuring the Special guest artist The New Lost Generation", and the song was co-written by Lowrell's younger brothers Jeffery Parrish Fineche Simon and Fred Simon. Probably the real heroes behind this masterpiece were producers Eugene Record (of the Chi-Lites), Bruce Hawes and Tom Tom (84), all famous for numerous gold-selling Chicago soul hits.

The mid-priced reissue CD is well worth its price for Mellow Mellow Right On alone, but it contains also a couple of other worthwhile tracks. Overdose of Love was a minor hit in late 1978, creating a Barry White-influenced mellow groove with lots of percussion and a stylish string and horn section, featuring Willie Henderson on baritone sax.

The B-side of the Overdose single was a track titled Smooth and Wild, another typically smooth and stylish Chicago soul track highlighted by excellent woodwinds work over a percussive slow rhythm. This reminds me of the Blaxploitation soundtracks by Isaac Hayes in the mid-70s.

The album opened with the most obvious disco track of the album, Out of Breath, which was already a bit outdated with its swirling disco strings. Much better was the following track You're Playing Dirty, built over a funkier and meatier beat.

The same Solaris label has also released Keni Burke's debut solo album from 1977, as well as the 1976 album by the Stairsteps, 2nd Resurrection and a string of other 70s and early 80s soul albums (William Bell, Richard Dimples Fields, Terry Huff, Creative Source). Check our list of recent reissue soul albums.

Ismo Tenkanen

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