... Of the Week: Joe Bataan - Subway Joe
By: Tom Hurst
‘Subway Joe’ is an album released by African American-Filipino Latin soul musician, Joe Bataan. Born in New York, Bataan was influenced primarily by Latin boogaloo and African American doo-wop. Having formed his first band, Joe Bataan and the Latin Swingers, following his release from prison in 1965, the singer and pianist released this particular body of work in 1969.
I came across Bataan having received an incorrect Shazam result while listening to Hodge’s Bristol Boiler Room set. Hodge is a trailblazing artist within UK techno so it’s tough to draw any real connection between the two beyond this faulty response from an otherwise invaluable app.
Subway Joe is insatiable; you can hear from the music that Bataan just can’t get enough of making it and that translates into a career that has spanned decades. To understand why his music has experienced such longevity, look no further than the infectious rhythms featured in the first, album-titled track, ‘Subway Joe’.
Bataan helped to coin the phrase ‘salsoul’ and it’s clear that his music embodies this. I will admit that Latin American rhythms and Calypso sounds, while tantalising, can, at times, be exhausting or even repetitive. However, the unique twist that Joe provides as a driver of this salsoul movement is guaranteed to keep you interested. Piano and trumpet solos scattered throughout the album keep you on your toes while the melancholier spells in ‘triste’ will keep you grounded, yet always entertained.
See below for a link to Joe Bataan’s Subway Joe and to Hodge’s Boiler Room appearance: