Singer-songwriter-musician Joe Bataan's 1973 album Salsoul - so named for its fusion of soul and salsa - would inspire the label of the same name for which Bataan would go on to record. But before inspiring the birth of Salsoul Records, Bataan founded his own New York-based independent label: Ghetto Records. Its label adorned by the image of a cat at home among the trash cans, Ghetto sought to bring further attention to such sounds as salsa, soul, jazz, boogaloo, and beyond. Bataan and co-founder George Febo's label was short-lived but its influence remains mighty. Yesterday, Vinyl Me, Please announced the latest volume of its Anthology series of box sets. (Previous sets in the series have been dedicated to such labels as Motown, Philadelphia International, Stax, Vanguard, and Ghostly International.) VMP Anthology: The Story of Ghetto Records, released in conjunction with Now-Again Records, features seven albums from the Ghetto discography. These encompass six now-rare and collectible albums first released in 1970-1972 as well as one new compilation from Joe Bataan including two previously unreleased songs and non-LP Ghetto singles.
The box includes:
- Eddie Lebron, Ghetto Records Presents... Eddie Lebron (Ghetto 0010, 1970)
- Papo Felix and Ray Rodriguez, Papo Felix Meets Ray Rodriguez (Ghetto 0011, 1971)
- Paul Ortiz Y La Orquesta, Son Los Que Son (Ghetto 0012, 1971)
- La Fantastica, From Ear To Ear (Ghetto 0014, 1971)
- Joe Acosta, The Power Of Love (Ghetto 0015, 1971)
- Candido Y Su Movimiento , Palos De Fuego (Ghetto 0016, 1972)
- Joe Bataan, Drug Story (2022)
VMP's Andrew Winistorfer asserts in the press release that "The Ghetto Records Anthology embodies VMP's 'Lost Sounds Found' ethos of discovering and embracing rare, important, and under-known music. This release features seven of the rarest and best Latin albums in music history. We are excited to collaborate with our friends at Now-Again Records to celebrate this renegade DIY label that did it their own way and made its artists record store legends." Indeed, Ghetto can be considered all but a lost label. While Joe Bataan has continued to perform and record well into the 21st century, he never looked back at the brief experiment that was Ghetto.
Eothen "Egon" Alapatt of Now-Again Records observes, "There's a reason that it took nearly half a century for Joe Bataan to allow these records to be issued again - his label was born out of rebellion and frustration with the music industry. He refused to be burned a second time. It took years to gain his trust, and I knew I would finally earn it - because I, too, wanted to know the true Story of Ghetto Records."
There were many obstacles to overcome before this release could happen. Most of the label's master tapes were lost in the aftermath of its shuttering in the 1970s; as a result, Alapatt and Pablo E. Yglesias, a.k.a. DJ Bongohead, sourced the audio for this release from the cleanest possible copies of the original vinyl LPs and then restored and remastered by Jason Bitner. Happily, Bataan had held onto the masters for Paul Ortiz' Los Que Son which was cut for this release in an all-analog chain. The previously unheard Bataan songs on the new Drug Story compilation were also sourced from original masters located in Spain. Lacquers for all titles except for Drug Story were cut by Bernie Grundman at Bernie Grundman Mastering. All seven titles have been pressed on 180-gram black vinyl at GZ. As with all of VMP's Anthologies, the box set is complemented by additional resources. DJ Bongohead hosts the accompanying podcast series, and a Listening Notes booklet is also included with the Anthology to shed further light on the lost stories of Ghetto Records.
Pre-orders are open now at Vinyl Me, Please. As always, VMP members have access to the box at a steep discount. The box is currently scheduled to ship in November.