Sunday, May 25, 2008

Spotlight on.... Joe Bataan

No one walks the line like Joe Bataan. His street cred could not be more impeccable - born in nyc, raised in spanish harlem, ex-gang member, and self taught on the piano, Joe was instrumental in forming the latin soul sound. After signing with Fania in 1966, he released eight albums including Gypsy Women, Subway Joe, Riot!, (which went gold) and Saint Latin's Day Massacre. After leaving Fania due to money disagreements he helped coin the phrase "Salsoul," lending that name to his first post Fania release and later co-founding the influential disco label with the Cayre brothers. Always a man with his ear to the street, Bataan sensed disco's impending arrival and this album represented a sonic shift towards groovier, more dance oriented sounds. This was evidenced even more so on his next album, Afro-Filipino, his first on Salsoul. Although not making much noise on the national charts, Bataan's instrumental cover of Gil Scott-Heron's "The Bottle" went on to be come a club hit and is considered an essential pre-disco track. Always searching for the new thing, Joe hit the charts a few years later with the minor disco-rap hit, "Rap-o-Clap-o" which is remembered as rap's debut in the european market. After gracefully bowing out of the game in the early eighties Bataan went on to become a youth counselor in one of the prisons he himself had been incarcerated in prior to his recording career. He began performing again in the nineties and released a new album "Call My Name" in 2005.

Joe Bataan - Subway Joe The title track from my favorite of his on Fania. I love his lyrics and loose delivery.

Joe Bataan - The Bottle (instrumental) An instrumental cover of Gil Scott-Heron. Really nice pre-disco.

Joe Bataan - Latin Strut The Brazilian-Bataan link! Excellent cover of Eumir Deodato's "Super Strut." Check the breakdown!

Joe Bataan - Rap-O-Clap-O (12" version) Speaking of breakdowns, Here's the 12" version of his super-catchy foray into hip hop.


cheeba said...

Hi! Nice post on Joe Bataan! That Rap-O-Clap-O cover still kills me every time I flip through it in the crates.

I just posted a compilation that includes "Latin Strut" which I think you'll dig:

I also mentioned and linked to this post so hopefully anyone looking for the lowdown on Joe will visit here. Thanks!