In the late 1960s, producer and arranger Bobby Marin had the concept for an album based on the sounds and experiences of his youth in his Spanish Harlem neighborhood. Credited to the 107th Street Stickball Team, this LP was rehearsed and recorded on the same day, fusing Latin music with soul and a bit of pop and boogaloo. The liner notes to the 2009 CD reissue of this rarity infer that this was a concept album of sorts, but while Marin's background undoubtedly fueled his vision of the record, it's really a collection of unrelated songs, not a series of tunes that tells a story or elaborates upon certain constant themes. It's a pretty fair mixture as far as such Nuyorican albums of the era go, but it's not quite as exciting or innovative as some of the collector buildup might portend. It does sound at times like the work of several bands rather than a single artist, with "On Old Broadway" fusing soul-pop with light Latin jazz and salsa; others, like the Spanish-language "Toma Guajira," getting into more straight salsa-jazz fusion along the lines of Willie Bobo; "Barbara with the Kooky Eyes" (great song title) going for an instrumental boogaloo; and other songs getting into more of an updated Latin/doo wop hybrid feel. Though the sound and grooves are pretty cool, the material does seem to have been hastily written and recorded, with a shortage of really outstanding compositions and somewhat lo-fi sound by 1969 standards. It's not a plus, either, that the best song, "On Old Broadway," has a chorus that virtually replicates the one from Petula Clark's "Downtown" melodically. The 2009 CD reissue does benefit from thorough historical liner notes explaining the album's genesis, as well as three interesting bonus cuts from an unreleased, slightly earlier boogaloo album by the Nitty Sextet in which Marin was also involved.
|Label:||Beat Goes Public Bgp|