Joe Bataan - King of Latin Soul LP
Vampi Soul Records
While it's almost de rigueur for many classic artists who've fallen out of the spotlight to revisit their back catalogs and re-record, remix, or otherwise mess with greatness, it's far more rare that the end results bear even discussing. This set of Joe Bataan classics -- and some lesser known tunes -- is well worth checking out. For starters, he cut the record with the Barcelona-based Latin funk mob Los Fulanos. Given the extreme energy that Los Fulanos pack into their own recordings and live performances, Bataan needed to step up his game as well. The coming together resulted in a new approach from both sides, relying more on the singer's more soul-oriented material. While "Gipsy Woman" (sic) and "Subway Joe" don't stray too far from the originals -- save for the production style -- other tracks, such as "Latin Soul Square Dance," "Mestizo," and his update on his first reading of Gil Scott-Heron's "The Bottle," are reinventions. They don't take away from or replace the classic versions, but they stand on their own as fine interpretations of them. King of Latin Soul is certainly for the faithful or seasoned Bataan fan to be sure; the merely curious still need to check out these on one of the excellent anthologies out there -- Fania's Under the Streetlamps: Anthology 1967-72 would be an excellent starting point.