For those of you who have come to one of my nights, or checked out a mix or two I’ve done, this next side is no stranger to either one of them. I have a great love for some Latin music, whether it be Latin Soul, Latin Jazz, or even some bugalu (Boogaloo). I actually ended up getting this record because a guy I was digging with listened to the first few bars, frowned, and said: “I can’t do anything with this thing.” Now I knew the label, but at the time did not know the band. I had a feeling about it. It was a good feeling, and I paid the vendor 50 cents or whatever he was charging, and proceeded to try not and smile too much as I walked away with that and a nice copy of Double Barrel by Dave and Ansil Collins on Big Tree, among others. I am more than happy to share this side, one of my most favorite Latin sides: The TNT Band with “The Meditation” on Cotique Records.
Founded by George Goldner in 1965, this Latin label was started to capitalize on the new sound of Boogaloo, but really ending up being much more. Coming straight out of El Barrio and the streets of New York City, these records came out strong as the new sound. It’s true the sound was around since the 50’s, then known as guajira. One would have to say that the sound was updated to modern times and then added English lyrics to them. Initially, they at Cotique were very liberal in their subject manner, with liner notes and song subjects that referenced LSD, pot, and other illegal substances, all to the Boogaloo rhythm. Cotique was trying to draw these young kids in. You see, Goldner and the new Cotique family were the only label showcasing the young talents of the time. Other labels stuck with older artists and dismissed Boogaloo as a passing fad. Maybe it actually was, as poor business moves would eventually cripple the label, and the older Latin labels would put out better quality Boogaloo records. Despite all that, Cotique remained a sort of Blue Note of Latin labels, keeping things fresh and putting out some good records, even if it was only from 1968-1970. Like I said earlier, bad business practices would contribute to the downfall of the label and the eventual graduation to Disco. There are quite a few good sides, and I believe this is one of them.
The TnT Band was comprised of Tito Ramos and Tony Rojas. Vocalists in their own right, Rojas was associated with the Johnny Colon Orchestra and sang on the 1967 hit “Boogaloo Blues”. This infusion of Latin rhythms, some American R & B, and the simple fact that these young musicians wanted a sound of their own fueled them to put out records as TnT Band. The song itself slowly builds up to a mid tempo piece of Latin HEAT, drawing equal influences from songs like Archie Bell and the Drells “Tighten Up”, and any James Brown dance floor cut for sure. Cries for a Drum Call!! followed by a really nice drum break prove that point. These guys were doing their own thang in a Latin style, and you know what? It worked. It may not have worked for a long period of time record sale wise, but records like “The Meditation” stand the test of time for sure. All in all they would release 3 full lengths before disbanding, and put out hits like “Mr. Slick”, “Borinquen Bella,” Sabre Olvidar,” and of course this burner. Don’t sleep on this side people, you’ll be sorry you did! Keep Diggin!