I was first exposed, unbeknownst to me, to Ray Barretto in 1989 through Dutch Funk/Rap/ band Urban Dance Squad. Their single “Deeper Shade of Soul” borrowed heavily from Barretto’s original, and the video was in maximum rotation on MTV. For a skate rate like me, the Charlie Brown tee shirt and skateboarders shredding the pool behind the band were cool, but the sample was what had me hooked. I was on a mission to find that original record. I never found the OG in the field. However, at one of those Groovy Productions record shows in Edison, NJ I finally managed t dig up what I was looking for. The Scorpio Distribution table had my prize I was searching for. If you’re not familiar with them, Scorpio is a vinyl record distributor in New Jersey that does all the reissues. They started their soon to be frenzy at the table by putting a scantily clad, large breasted woman at the table to attract attention. Soon boxes of David Axelrod, Skull Snaps, and various other classics were being put out for sale. It was like shark week in there, the $3 reissues were scooped up like chum off of the Orca. There I finally scooped up a reissue (bootleg?) copy of Acid as well as the classic Earl Coleman’s The Latin Love In (on the strength of another digger’s tip). I had gotten a copy of my Ray Barretto tune and spun it out very frequently. I’ve always picked up 45s of his when I saw them. Who is gonna pass up “El Watusi” on Tico for 50 cents, “Soul Drummers” promo for $6 bucks, or even the record I found recently for 49 cents: “De Donde Vengo”? Let’s face it, these Fania 45s are getting harder and harder to find, so I’ll pick the damn things up for that price all day long. Maybe it’s easier for me because I’m in NYC, but I’ve always tried to grab some good Latin ish when I can.
Coming off his 1969 release Together on Fania, “De Donde Vengo” start with a piano that hook goes right into some beautiful horns and Barretto’s signature percussion. As the horn frenzy builds, Barrtto’s percussion swells up large to the calls of the song’s title sung by the backing band. Not necessarily the Latin banger “Soul Drummers” is, but a nice little find for less than half a buck. Like Ray, this is where I come from. Inexpensive, good, records. You won’t be sorry if you see this one out in the field on the cheap.