Joe Bataan

The "JB" of Fania, Joe Bataan sang soul and Latin with a voice and style like no other. He became as much of a crossover king as Ray Barretto, but in different ways. His Filipino half no doubt gets credit for the unique singing ability, and his upbringing in Spanish Harlem accounted for facility with both Latin and soul. His Latin soul was not the instrumental boogaloo but bringing street-corner, doo-wop group singing into the '60s and salsa.

Like most young stars of Latin soul, Bataan forced the stodgy old men of Fania to grabble with sounds that defied the tried and true. Bataan dispensed early with the need to please all or prove his Latin roots. Instead he drew from his experiences of living in New York, of gang membership, and of prison to create a style truer to El Barrio than most of his peers were making. His songs are tough yet sensitive, soulful but not overly sentimental, and the music is ranges from salsa to ballads to funk. He also covered a few popular tunes such as "It's Your Thing."

Bataan formed his own short-lived record label, Ghetto, and maintained his career through the critical seventies. The wide-selling Afrofilipino remains a classic for DJs and may be responsible for his having so many fans that periodically he comes out of retirement. His classic Fania LPs remain prized, and several are among the least-seen titles on the label. There are even rarities, including a single from a funky 1973 album that never saw release (the tapes of the session reportedly are long gone).

Buying: All of the Fania records should be treated as great finds if not rarities. Even the compilation album is very hard to find. His later records are inexpensive and usually well worth checking out.

Joe Bataan LPs

8Joe Bataan: Gypsy Woman/Mujer Gitana; Fania SLP-340; 1966 (gold-label 1st press)
8Joe Bataan: Subway Joe; Fania SLP-345; 1967 (gold-label 1st press)
8Joe Bataan: Riot!; Fania SLP-354; 1968 (gold-label 1st press)
9Joe Bataan: Poor Boy; Fania SLP-371; 1969
8Joe Bataan: Singin' Some Soul; Fania SLP-375; 1969
7Joe Bataan: Mr. New York & the East Side Kids; Fania SLP-395; 1971
7Joe Bataan: Sweet Soul; Fania SLP-407; 1972
9Joe Bataan: The Song of; Fania SLP-411 (compilation)
7Joe Bataan: St. Latin's Day Massacre; Fania SLP-420; 1972
xJoe Bataan: Bataan in San Frantasia; Fania SLP-432; rec. 1972 (unreleased except for a single)
8Joe Bataan: Salsoul; Mericana XMS-124; 1973
9Joe Bataan: Afrofilipino; Mericana/Salsoul; 1975
Joe Bataan: LaSo; MCA; 1976
xJoe Bataan; Spring [unreleased LP, contains "The Men"]
Joe Bataan: Mestizo; Mericana/Salsoul 8534
6Joe Bataan: Joe Bataan II; Mericana/Salsoul SA-8549; 1981 (disco)
Joe Bataan: ?; Century (Japan); 1993 (has "Theme from 'The Men'"
8Joe Bataan: Call My Name; Distrolux/Vampisoul Vampi-065; 2005 (Latin funk/Latin rock; no US distribution, Bataan not compensated?)

Joe Bataan 45s (non-LP rarities)

8Joe Bataan: Latin Soul Square Dance/Call Me; Fania 644; 1972 (from unreleased Bataan in San Frantasia LP; promo version has Square Dance only, in 2 lengths)
7Joe Bataan: Latin Strut/Peace, Friendship, & Solidarity; RCA Victor PA-10033; 1974 (on the "Salsoul" LP & as Mericana single M-7157 but here louder & oddly on RCA)

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