Wednesday, April 14, 2010
I WOKE UP THIS MORNING WITH A PHONE CALL FROM POPS, IT WENT SOMETHING LIKE THIS
POPS: YOU STILL COMING DOWN SOUTH
ME: YEAH WHATS CRACKIN
POPS: I TALKED TO THIS GUY AT THE SWAP MEET AND HE HAS TONS OF 45s & 12s. I GOT HIS NUMBER AND WE WILL GO DIG WHEN U GET HERE
POPS: ALSO MY FRIEND JOE BATAAN IS PLAYING IN MAY DO YOU WANT TO SEE HIM? I GOT BACK STAGE PASSES.
ME: OHHHHHHH FUCK YEAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH
one of my favorite cuts on the album
JOE BATAAN - NO STRANGER 1972
If ever an album deserved the title of "lost classic," here it is. Joe Bataan, an Afro-Filipino native of Spanish Harlem, became a star in the community when he and his young, rough-and-tumble band figured out the connection between Latin and African-American sounds and conquered the younger segment of the Latin market with a string of late 60s smashes including "Gypsy Woman," "Ordinary Guy," "What Good Is A Castle" and "Riot." Joe's technically-flawed but soulfully affecting Everyman vocals told tales of underclass strife and pride with some of New York's roughest neighborhoods as a backdrop. Even the love songs usually worked in references to poverty. By the time this record was recorded in 1970, Joe felt ready to try his hand at an album of pure R&B without any Latin rhythms and the result is sheer delight. Utilizing a mixture of Detroit, Philadelphia and Chicago soul influences, yet still maintaining its essential New York-ness, "SSS" is a joyful if somewhat dated classic of its era, and it remains extremely infectious and appealing. The string and horn parts remind the listener of the demise of "arrangements" in popular music, and the vocals and songs ("Under The Street Lamp," "Young Gifted & Brown," "Unwed Mother") come literally straight from the heart. This album also contains the BEST version of "Crystal Blue Persuasion" ever recorded, as well as great covers of Smokey Robinson and Intruders songs. Truly beautiful, at once touching and uplifting, and yet another album that is long overdue for greater exposure and discovery. "SSS" is one of only two albums of its type in Joe's rich catalog. It's short, just about 30 minutes, but unlike most of today's albums, every second counts! Thanks, Joe!