Funky Latino rock from offshoot of New York City's Bronx gang The Ghetto Brothers. Recorded in 1972.
Benny Benjy Melendez – lead vocals
Robert Melendez – rhythm guitar
Victor Melendez – bass guitar
Chiqui Concepcion – congas
Luis Bristo – drums
Franky Valentin – timbales
Angelo Garcia – bongos
David Silva – lead guitar
Producer – Bobby Marin
Cover design - Angelo Velazquez
Photography - Gary Mason
Original label release: Salsa Records, a subsiduary of Mary Lou Records, New York.
Studio - Finetone
Original release date - 1972
Re-issued on CD by Salsa International in 2006
Original sleeve notes:
"This album contains a message; a message to the world, from the Ghetto Brothers
The Ghetto Brothers, a community organization dedicated to bridging the ever-increasing gap that exists between society and minority groups, believe music to be the common language of the world. Through music, they are able to inform society of the plight of the 'little people' in their quest for recognition. Therefore, the music of the Ghetto Brothers serves as a way of communication.
"If the Ghetto Brothers' dream comes true, the world will learn that the 'little people' wish to be acknowledged; wish to be properly educated in order for them to pass on their knowledge to their children and proudly inform them about their heritage and culture, and be a functioning part of the growth of America. If the Ghetto Brothers' dream comes true, the 'little people' will be 'little people' no more, and make their own mark in this world. Listen to the Ghetto Brothers…….and take heed."
'This album contains a message; a message to the world, from the Ghetto Brothers.'
Taking eight members of a street gang into the studio to produce a Latin music album would have been no mean feat by anyone's standards! Luckily the now legendary producer Bobby Marin was on hand to keep things tight and capture that New York Puerto Rican funk essence that was the Ghetto Brothers. That what had taken seed in the Bronx was to produce 'Power- Fuerza' a heavy slice of Bronx Latino funk!
The Ghetto Brothers:
The band the Ghetto Brothers grew out of the Bronx street gang of the same name. Through the music they were the voice of the Ghetto Brothers: a group of mainly young people of Puerto Rican descent from the Bronx who wanted a better way of life. As they stated themselves on the jacket of their album they were '… a community organization dedicated to bridging the ever-increasing gap that exists between society and minority groups', they '… believe music to be the common language of the world.' Their message and goals included '… to be acknowledged; [a] wish to be properly educated in order for them to pass on their knowledge to their children and proudly inform them about their heritage and culture. And be a functioning part of the growth of America.'
Along with other street gangs of the time such as the Savage Skulls, the Roman Kings, and the Savage Nomads, the Ghetto Brothers gave their members an identity and alternative to the deprivation and failing education system that left them feeling abandoned by society. They may have looked the typical leather-clad menacing street gang, but their ways and 'message' was in sharp contrast to this media stereotype.
While larger and now more widely known organizations such as the Black Panther Party and the Young Lords reflected a growing level of political awareness amongst black and Hispanic youth during the 1960s and 70s, it was the Ghetto Brothers who were among the first to be seen as 'forces of positive energy in their neighborhoods'.
Their surroundings not only determined their music, but also determined their fate. Due to its very nature the original LP only had a limited release – who was ever going to distribute an album of songs by a street gang outside of Hispanic community in the Bronx? The cruelest blow was when one member was left bleeding to death in the street being stabbed whilst attempting to break up a fight between rival gangs.
The work of the Ghetto Brothers never stopped and even today former leaders of Bronx gangs talk to the young people who these days organize themselves into 'posses.'
'Listen to the Ghetto Brothers ……. and take heed'