Today’s treat is The 24-Carat Black’s Ghetto: Misfortune’s Wealth. The project was spearheaded by Dale Warren a classically trained viola player and songwriter who arranged strings for Motown and then got recruited by Stax to work on on a few Isaac Hayes records arranging and orchestrating Lps such as Hot Buttered Soul, …To Be Continued, and The Isaac Hayes Movement, as well as music from Wattstax among others. Warren took the band formerly known as The Ditalians under his tutelage and transformed them into The 24-Carat Black. Grooming the Cincinnatti, OH group, he persuaded them to change their name, helped the band accept the concept, and basically trained them to be the players for this part. He helped the band see his vision of his musical on a vinyl record, and practicing six or seven nights a week for six or seven hours a time for an extended period of time finally paid off. These young, green musicians were able to record this record in one twelve hour time period. Recording the music live and over dubbing the vocals, the project clocked in at just over 60 minutes, a whopping 20 minutes over the usual 40 minute Lp. The record itself, highlighted the 1970’s struggle and hardships of living in an inner city and below the poverty line. The black experience living in a ghetto in a musical form. It’s brilliant, given the musicians age, experience, and the fact that most concept albums were reserved for prog rock outfits, not R & B, tinged soul and gospel influenced funk tracks. However, the record itself struggled to find an audience. Perhaps, like many records, it was too advanced for audiences for the time. Whatever the case, the band performed once at a showcase in Memphis. Like a motion picture playing out in real life, the band imploded, promptly split up, and half the band went back to Cincinnati, the other half stayed with Warren in Memphis. Both performed separately in different capacities. One, continuing on performing this magnum opus, the other performing commercially in and around Ohio. When both outfits were not going in the right direction, they both stopped, but in a weird turn of events some members would reunite together later, reinventing themselves as Shotgun (who would go on to record for a few record labels and put out half a dozen records). Warren, would pass away in 1993, and with some unrecorded material released by Numero Group in 2009, his legacy would fade away as quick as the first The 24-Carat Black record did. Fortunately, at some point, it was embraced by crate diggers and beat makers like Eric B., Jay Z, Dr. Dre, Digable Planets, and Naughy By Nature, among others, who would turn the record on to a whole new generation through sampling. This latest pressing was reissued by Craft Recordings. Using the original Enterprise label artwork and pressed up on 180g vinyl, it features extensive liner notes by Grammy winning author Rob Bowman (Soulsville U.S.A.: The Stax Record story). Part of their Made In Memphis series, it was cut in Memphis at Ardent Studios and pressed at Memphis Record Pressing. A beautiful record and a stone cold classic.
Listen to the track “Ghetto Misfortune’s Wealth”:
Get the record here.