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Joe bataan

PostPosted: Sun May 22, 2005 11:03 pm
by garth cartwright
Interesting to hear James Maycock play and praise Joe Bataan on Charlie’s Saturday night show. Maycock’s right – Bataan was the King of Latin Soul in late-1960s New York and his new album Call My Name (Vampi) , his first in twenty years, is one of the best things I’ve heard this year: it sounds fresh, lively, a singer and band totally engaged.

This is a great change from the norm – the likes of Solomon Burke, Wilson Pickett and co’ tend to end up singing Elvis Costello and Van Morrison songs that don’t suit them and never sound very comfortable on their comeback albums. Bataan sounds like he’s barely blinked.

I was surprised Charlie didn’t appear knowledgable on Batan – his 60s and early 70s sides really cooked, very fresh sounding stuff. As James mentioned, Bataan had been in prison and involved with gangs before he became a recording star and his material always had a very ‘street’ feel to it, loose and raw.

I always thought he must have died as I’d heard nothing of him for so long – I got turned on to him in the ‘80s when a friend in New Zealand discovered a few of his sides during an American sojourn – until Nascenete reissued two of his 60s albums Subway Joe/Gypsy Woman on one CD (definitely worth purchasing if still in print) several years ago - I immediately bought another copy and sent it to the Kiwi friend who was very happy to receive it! And now Vampi, the fine Spanish label devoted to Soul Jazz, have been reissuing his albums along with lots of other great stuff from the same era.

I’ve never found much imfo on Bataan anywhere – I imagine he only had a NY following so never entered the soul reference books. And even though he sings in English I imagine he’s always been grouped with NY Latin artists. Also, soul jazz appears to have been totally overlooked by those who write about music – I remember Robert Christgau writing how he always snobbishly hated it when hearing it in NY in the ‘60s.

Interestingly, he’s of Philippino-African American heritage – I can’t think of another Philippino in popular music. Anyone else got any suggestions?

And anyone else got any imfo on Bataan or thoughts on his music?

Afro-Filipino

PostPosted: Mon May 23, 2005 1:23 am
by Nikki Atkinson
Although this does not answer your question, I understand that Sugar Pie DeSanto is also Afro-Filipino.

PostPosted: Mon May 23, 2005 9:23 am
by howard male
Garth wrote

Also, soul jazz appears to have been totally overlooked by those who write about music.


I suggest this should be the subject for your next book then Garth.
I was at a book launch in a pub for 'Rip It Up and Start Again' by Simon Reynolds a few weeks back, and someone asked the young writer what had drawn him to the subject of post punk. They were clearly, like myself, a veteran of the era and were probably hoping for the writer to gush about loving the music, the clothes etc. But instead, with admirable honesty, Reynolds said, he'd just noticed no one else had done it, so leapt in there, before they did.

Reynolds seems to have written a critically praised book without particularly caring for the subject, so who can say what a great book you could write on a subject which you do feel passionate about, Garth.

Re: Joe bataan

PostPosted: Mon May 23, 2005 9:46 am
by Charlie
garth cartwright wrote:I was surprised Charlie didn’t appear knowledgable on Batan – his 60s and early 70s sides really cooked, very fresh sounding stuff. As James mentioned, Bataan had been in prison and involved with gangs before he became a recording star and his material always had a very ‘street’ feel to it, loose and raw.


I put Joe Bataan's song 'Subway Joe' on Sound of the City: New York.

When I first started playing this game (Radio Ping Pong) ten years ago, I probably would have wanted to show off that I knew all - or even anything - about each artist played by the guest, but I've learned not to steal their thunder.

I assume most of the listeners are just there for the sounds, and don't know details of most of the artists that get played in the show, whether by me or by a guest. So it's helpful if the guest can provide a bit of background to their choices. And sometimes I like to leave them with a clean sheet, not having to work around what I might know or might have previously told the audience.

But in any case, I didn't know about Joe's twenty five years working with young offenders.

On a slightly different tack - there's a great peice in yesterday's Observer Music Magazine by Peter Culshaw about the Songwriter Train Ride across Canada with Tom Russell, which Tom told us was about to happen when he came in to play Radio Ping Pong earlier this year.

PostPosted: Mon May 23, 2005 10:14 am
by howard male
I'm always astonished by how much you lot (including Charlie obviously) do know! If I'm ever cornered on the subject of world music, I usually paraphrase an old quotation, by saying,

" I don't know much about world music, but I know what I like."

This genuinely does sum up my relationship to the genre, as I've only become an addict in the last six years or so (even though I'd dipped in to African music since the early eighties). Now that I've started writing a little in the public arena, I can only say - thank God for the Internet!

PostPosted: Tue May 24, 2005 3:02 pm
by RobHall
Well, I was browsing in HMV this lunchtime and came across a copy of the new Joe Bataan CD, so I bought it and have just listened to it.

Garth is spot on: it sounds amazingly fresh and is a welcome change from other comebacks which merely serve to remind us of what we're missing. This is the real thing.

I notice that it's recorded at the Daptone Sound studio - Daptone seems to be on a mission to recreate an authentic soul and funk sound and, on the strength of this, they've got the Latin groove down too.