107th. STREET STICKBALL TEAM: Saboreando (Label: BGP)

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107th. STREET STICKBALL TEAM: Saboreando

New York’s Spanish Harlem has always been a hotbed for Latin-flavoured uptown soul and earlier this year Ace/BGP issued a wonderful compilation sampling the best of the genre. Same label now turns the spotlight on the oddly named 107th Street Stickball Team. The group were essentially a vehicle for legendary Latin muso Bobby Marin. He lived on 107th Street and stickball (a variant of baseball) was the game of choice for the kids playing in the streets between the tenement blocks… hence the name he gave to the musicians who made this 1967 album – originally released on the tiny Dorado label and never, till now, reissued. Soul collectors will readily identify with the opener, ‘On Old Broadway’. Vocalized by Butch Johnson, it owes much to the Drifters’ famous hit while ‘Look To Me’ filches flavours from the Brill Building too. ‘Mojo Shingaling’, ‘Barbara With The Kooky Eyes’, and the three bonus cuts (credited to the Nitty Sextet – which featured the legendary Tito Puente) will keep the Salsa dancers more than happy. Elsewhere there’s plenty of stately Latin swayers and dramatic ballads to offer real variety. Marin went on to bigger things – earning a few bob for seeing his work sampled by Christine Aguilera – but the music on this 12 tracker was his bread and butter … the heart and SOUL of Spanish Harlem.
(BB) 3/5