We know you’re gonna dig this: Truth & Soul’s re-release of Power Fuerza by the Ghetto Brothers (dropping November 20th) accomplishes various things at once. Not only does it re-introduce to the world a great and extremely hard-to-find LP of Latin-rock and soul – as performed by Puerto Rican South Bronx teens – but it also brings to light, 40 years after its original release, the story of the GBs – a street gang turned community organization whose members rejected violence for unity during a crucial time in NYC’s history.
The founding unit of the Ghetto Brothers were actual brothers, los hermanos Melendez (Benjy, Robert and Victor) who, inspired by the Black Panthers, the Young Lords, and the Puerto Rican Socialist Party, attempted to better their community through activism, ridding their neighborhood of drugs and initiating a landmark early ’70s gang truce. They also started a band that effortlessly mixed together rock, soul and a Latin edge to make some powerful music that connected with locals but, sadly, did not get properly promoted. Power Fuerza , the group’s only album, has long been sought after by collectors. As our own Chairman Mao , who wrote the reissue’s liner notes, states:
One might expect the GB band’s oeuvre to be that of socially-conscious protest songs. But Power Fuerza isn’t nearly so easily categorized. Stylistically, it’s a confluence of both driving and gentle sounds and sensibilities. It’s the product of teenaged Puerto Rican New Yorkers weaned on ’60s pop-song romance and lovely Beatles harmonies experimenting with traditional Latin and heavy Latin-rock rhythms, proudly declaring their nationalist allegiance while creating their own distinctly Nuyorican inner city blues. At its root it’s a celebration of life – an inspired, emotionally unguarded cache of tracks cut by the band as though turning the tide of devastation of their crumbling South Bronx surroundings could be achieved through the exuberance of their performances.
Truth & Soul’s DJ Akalepse has put together a lovely 17-minute mix of highlights from the super deluxe CD/LP reissue of Power Fuerza , which will feature remastered audio and an extensive 80-page liner notes booklet filled with rarely-seen photos and interviews, for you to listen to below.
CLICK THE THUMBNAILS ABOVE TO PEEP SOME GHETTO BROTHERS PHOTOS WE DUG UP WHILE YOU LISTEN TO THIS MIX.
Pre-order the Ghetto Brothers’ Power Fuerza from Truth & Soul today. And collectors be on the look out for a limited-edition picture-sleeve 7” of “Got This Happy Feeling” b/w “Girl From the Mountain” before the end of the month.