Friday, September 6, 2013


Depending on how old you are, you might think that reissues of old rare records were always readily available. That wasn't the case. Back in the pre-CD age (meaning vinyl and cassettes only) there were very few reissues floating around, relative to today. Maybe a greatest hits package, or a compilation of songs that shared a style or era, but reissues of really obscure LPs didn't really exist. That means most of the music that was missed in years earlier was either in the hands of collectors, or being swapped in crappy cassette copies that may have been recorded and re-recorded until they sounded like shit. Usually if there was a white whale record that you may have heard about organically (without the aid of online groups) you would just assume that you'd never hear it. Nowadays, there's almost too much available. Really. We've all bought some shitty reissue, released just because someone saw a void, paid whatever licensing there was, and put it out figuring someone would buy it. All of this is a long winded way of saying not all reissues are worthy of being reissued. The Ghetto Brothers sole LP is not one of them. It comes with a story.

The Ghetto Brothers were an offshoot of a Bronx gang of the same name. In the late sixties their turf was surrounded by opposing gangs, but instead of trying to out-baddass the other gangs, they decided to go another route. They picked a spokesperson based on his communicating skills. In 1971, Cornell "Black Benjy" Benjamin walked into the turf of an opposing gang with his hands raised, displaying peace signs, in an effort to negotiate a truce. The opposing gang wasn't too interested. They beat him to death. You would guess that the incident would escalate the violence. That wasn't the case. 

I'm not going to ruin a story already well told. Visit the official site and check the videos. Hell, all the stuff below is worth checking out. The music is Latin funk. Good stuff on it's own merit and deserved of a post on its own. Know this: Musica de Alma, one of the best Latin music blogs that exists, rated one of their songs as number three on their Top 5 Latin Funk Tracks.

Ghetto Brothers - Got This Happy Feeling mp3 at Musica de Alma
Ghetto Brothers - You Say You Are My Friend mp3 at Rollo & Grady
Go there to get it.
Benjamin “Yellow Benjy” Melendez at Vimeo The Ghetto Brothers story, as told by an original member of both the gang and the band.
The Gang Meeting - Melendez speaking to a gathering of gangs, 1971 at Ghetto Brothers NYC  Afrika Bambaataa, a gang member at 14, was present.
Ghetto Brothers - Ghetto Brothers Power at YouTube
Ghetto Brothers NYC
Ghetto Brothers at Wikipedia
Ghetto Brothers at Messy Nessy

1 comment:

Timmy said...

Great Rhythm, groovy vocals. Way to go, bros & sistah!