Then and Now: Lowrider, Ode to Io & Ode to Io Deluxe Edition (Plus Exclusive Mix Premiere)

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on July 20th, 2017 by JJ Koczan

lowrider ode to io deluxe edition

LOWRIDER ODE TO IO

[Click play above to stream an exclusive A / B mix of Lowrider’s ‘Shivaree’ illustrating the differences between the original version and the remaster. Ode to Io Deluxe Edition‘s limited second pressing is available now to preorder.]

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Ode to Io original LP:

The original People Like You LP is honored in the fact that both platters on the new version have a similar transparent haze pattern, but the difference between the two is represented on multiple levels by the shift in tone of the artwork from silver (or grey, as it were) to gold. Ode to Io Deluxe Edition is a more-than-deserved revisit that doesn’t simply make the songs louder, but actually pays attention to the nuances in the mix of cuts like “Saguaro” — the pattern of starts and stops there is preserved with a breadth that only adds to the impact of both — and from the very launch of opener “Caravan,” the labor-of-love aspect in its construction is clear. Lowrider, who to-date have never issued a sophomore album to back Ode to Io, very obviously know they created something special 17 years ago, and while I refuse to take away from the appeal of the original LP’s rawness in conveying the youthful vigor of their performance — they were basically kids when the album was made; the youngest of them 17 and the oldest 26 — their efforts in updating the total 16 included tracks feel most of all like a thank-you to the audience that has kept Ode to Io relevant as more than a decade and a half has gone by.

Yes, songs like “Flat Earth” and “Anchor” hit harder, and the lower end of Bergstrand‘s bass and the guitars of Stålfors and Hellqvist is more forward than it was on 2000’s Ode to Io, but the attention to detail from Eriksson goes further. The spaciousness of “Texas Pt. 1 & 2” and the closing title-track is given righteous emphasis, and without making any single element overwhelming in relation to the others, Eriksson has bolstered the overarching impression of cuts like “Convoy V,” the ultra-fuzzed “Riding Shotgun” and “Dust Settlin’,” so that even his own snare hits feel warmer and clearer, giving up none of the attitude or the laid back vibes that punctuate even the heaviest, most active moments of the album. Plain and simple (and cliché): he nailed it. One doesn’t imagine Lowrider would put out Ode to Io Deluxe Edition if the situation were otherwise — they’re marking 20 years as a band but it’s not like they’re under contractual obligation; it’s a self-release — but still, as a fan, it’s especially satisfying to put the original Ode to Io and this new one side-by-side and see and hear on every level a rare instance of a heavy rock classic getting its long-overdue due.

It’s worth noting that while the running order is the same through Ode to Io itself, the split in sides has changed, and where the acoustic interlude “Sun Devil” led into “Anchor” to round out the LP’s first half, leaving “Texas Pt. 1 & 2,” “Riding Shotgun,” “Saguaro” and “Ode to Io” to close, Ode to Io Deluxe Edition shifts “Saguaro” and “Ode to Io” to side C, pairing them with “The Gnome, the Serpent, the Sun” and “David William Hughes.” Aside from the sound of the songs themselves (which is significant, make no mistake), it’s the biggest difference between the 2000 and the 2017 Ode to Ios, though the cowbell-laden fuzz nod and last crashes of “Riding Shotgun” hold their own as a finisher for side B without any trouble. The seeming intention would be to tie the album-proper directly with the bonus material, creating one entirety across the drifting end of “Ode to Io” into the opening riff of “The Gnome, the Serpent, the Sun” despite different recording sounds and an earlier overall take as was featured on the Nebula split.

Ode to Io Deluxe Edition:

Groove is groove, however, and in light of that, “The Gnome, the Serpent, the Sun” flows easily from the preceding cut and into “David William Hughes,” which tops a rhythmic push with spoken vocals before a long fadeout, leaving “Lameneshma,” “Shivaree,” “Ol’ Mule Pepe” and “Upon the Dune” as a particularly resonant side D. True, the material is formative compared to what would arrive a couple years later on Ode to Io, but from the hook proffered by “Lameneshma” to the improvised-sounding desert meandering of “Upon the Dune,” Lowrider efficiently showcase the breadth that was in even the earliest of their works and reinforce the to-be-treasured nature of the release as a whole. Deluxe Edition could have just as easily been called “collectors edition” given its compilation-type feel, but in being comprehensive in bringing Lowrider‘s songs together in one outing, the 2LP underscores the value and as-yet-timeless quality of what the band were able to accomplish in the studio.

Nearly half a decade has passed since they first reunited to play Desertfest London 2013 (review here) and they’ve threatened a new release basically ever since as they’ve continued to make appearances at HellfestDesertfest Berlin, Lake on FireUp in Smoke, Stoned from the Underground, etc., and they’ve stated that the proceeds from this vinyl will go toward future recordings, but whether Lowrider will actually issue a follow-up to Ode to Io remains to be seen. Serving perhaps as a preview of the tonal breadth and clarity of approach they might manifest across a new batch of songs, however, Ode to Io Deluxe Edition provides yet another level of encouragement. If the one is a step along the path to the other, it’s a step an entire new generation of listeners seems ready to take. Recommended.

Lowrider, Ode to Io Deluxe Edition (2017)

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