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:
This track comes off a single released in 1978. Chris Stamey and the dBs were one of the groups that sprouted out of the fertile musical soil of New York in the late 1970s, with groups like Television, The Feelies, and post-Big Star Alex Chilton coalescing around Ork Records. In addition to being released as a single, this track also appears on a Numero Group compilation focused on Ork Records output. It was penned by Televsion member Richard Lloyd, coming just after the release of Television’s best known album Marquee Moon. I was torn between choosing this song and a collaboration between Stamey and Alex Chilton called “The Summer Sun” which came out in 1977 as well. Chris Stamey has continued releasing solo work and working with the dBs from the late 1970s to the present, with his most recent release Euphoria coming in 2015 and a release under the name The dBs, Falling Off the Sky, coming just a few years earlier. Lloyd released an album of Jimi Hendrix covers a few years ago called The Jamie Neverts Story, which appears to be a reference to a mutual friend Lloyd shared with Hendrix early in Lloyd’s life, but as there is no citation on Wikipedia it doesn’t meet the strict standards and practices here at Orion’s Bastard. But you don’t have to figure that out to enjoy this power pop hidden gem, so try not to stress about it.