My all-time favorite: “Ordinary Guy”
One of my favorite songs in Spanish: Aguanta La Lengua (Watch Your Mouth)
He was heavily influenced by the Latin Boogaloo of the 1960s as well as African-American Doo Wop that he picked up during his gang-running days. His first band was Joe Bataan & the Latin Swingers. By the year 1966, he and the Latin Swingers were the youngest band to sign on with the prominent Fania Records. After six months of rehearsing every day and learning the music business through trial and error, he and the Latin Swingers finally started to make records. Their first hit was the Latin version of Curtis Mayfield's ‘Gypsy Woman.’. The fact that Joe and his band had achieved such stardom, this became a big deal in his barrio/hood because it all happened within six months.
A Marvin Gaye tune: “If This World Were Mine”
My favorite love song in Spanish: Mujer Mía (My Woman)
Maintaining his street connections, Joe also picked up on the New York hip hop culture very early in the game with his 1979 single ‘Rap-O Clap-O.’ In 1981, after releasing three albums on Salsoul, Bataan retired from the music business to spend more time with his family, and ended up working as a youth counselor at one of the reformatories where he himself spent time as a teenager. In 2005, Joe made a comeback with the release of ‘Call My Name,’ a well-received album recorded for Spain’s VampiSoul label.
Today, I marvel at how Salsa music has grown to be appreciated worldwide. As a native New Yorker, I've always thought Salsa was just a New York barrio thing. Those days are over. The music of which Joe Bataan was involved as the New York King of Latin Soul since the very beginning, is now accepted as mainstream everywhere.