Before they ever stepped into a recording booth, the Ghetto Brothers had already achieved some local fame for their role in brokering a truce among themselves and other Bronx gangs in 1971. While he was trying to clean up his neighborhood, Benny “Benjy” Melendez and his brother Victor formed a musical group also called the Ghetto Brothers that combined their love of the Beatles and their own Puerto Rican musical heritage. The group recorded their only album, Power-Fuerza, in one afternoon in Manhattan, and the album has since become a collector’s item because it’s really really good and really really rare. According to a 2002 interview, the Ghetto Brothers were known to don berets to emulate Che Guevera and some of their lefty leanings can be heard on the song Viva Puerto Rico Libre. Power-Fuerza was re-issued by Truth and Soul in 2012 and from what I can see the re-issue comes with extensive liner notes about the group and its history. Getting the re-issue on Discogs is your best bet if you want to pick one up, as the originals sell for about a thousand bucks when they do come up for sale. Check out this video Truth and Soul produced for the re-issue if you want to see some cool archival photos and videos of the Ghetto Brothers in action:
Plateaus – Do It For You
Plateaus comprises Chris Rosi, Elliot Moeller, Jon Green, and Kevin Gist, who have been active since around 2011. Do It For You was released as a single on Hozac Records in 2012 and appears on their self-titled debut put out by Art Fag Recordings that same year. Those familiar with Hozac won’t be surprised to find these guys in their catalog, since Hozac has been putting out lo-fi gems for the better part of a decade, including work by Heavy Times and Radar Eyes. For fans of Jay Reatard and Ty Seagall, this should be a welcome addition to your collection. You can find more updates about tours and new releases on their Facebook page, and if your curious this track also has a kick-ass music video.
Amanaz – Khala My Friend
This track comes from a vibrant rock scene in 1970s Zambia affectionately referred to by collectors/enthusiasts as Zamrock. According to this Guardian profile, the Zambian government issued a law mandating that 95% of music on Zambian radio must be from native Zambian artists, and many groups put their own spin on the psych sounds that were creeping into the country from the United States. While the scene was short lived because of an economic recession which hit the country in the late 1970s and the influx of more outside radio programming, it has left behind a wealth of fuzzed-out garage gems. Paul Ngozi, an alias which translates to Paul Danger, is credited with introducing the Zamrock sound through his solo work and releases under the name The Ngozi Family. Another group, W.I.T.C.H. (We Intend to Cause Havoc) released a number of albums throughout the 1970s and are closely associated with the Zamrock sound.
Amanaz released only one album, Africa, in 1975 on a label called Zambia Music Parlor that released a lot of the Zamrock material from the period. It has been reissued by Now-Again Records, who also put out a fantastic psych compilation called Forge Your Own Chains which I can’t recommend enough. Now-Again has been releasing a lot of material from this period in Zambia and if this album is any indication there is a lot of good music to (re)discover.