Joe Bataan – Gypsy Woman (1967) (Fania SLP 340)

Joe Bataan
Gypsy Woman
Fania Records SLP 340
Original release, 1967
1990’s CD reissue

Emerging out of the hybrid crossroads of boogaloo, R&B, Latin Soul, and the nascent salsa scene, Joe Bataan was defying categorization and bending genres long before it was hip.  The first album I heard by him was “Subway Joe”, but it was years before I realized he didn’t actually sing any of the Spanish-language numbers in his repertoire – those, in the early days at least, were handled by Joe Pagan.  For a fascinating glimpse into the complexities of being an Afro-Filipino in the barrio, you can watch this interview with him done by Red Bull Academy. Although I personally like that there is an entire 2 hours of it, somebody could probably edit that down a bit, for the non-fanatical.

This album opens with a cover of The Impressions’ “Gypsy Woman” and ends with one of his signature originals, Ordinary Guy.  Since the remastered Fania CDs are a travesty and abomination (brick-walled, subjected to ham-fisted noise reduction, and guaranteed to fatigue your ears in 10 minutes or less), take advantage of this early CD pressing which is a relatively flat transfer with far fewer digital artifacts).  Don’t forget to add your own hand-claps!  And listen to the trombone! With any luck we’ll be seeing some Craft Recordings / Concord reissues of Bataan’s work now that they’ve been offering nuggets from the Fania back catalog, including a double LP of collected singles that include some Bataan.

1 Gypsy Woman 2:31
2 So Fine 3:05
3 Fuego 6:28
4 Campesino 3:46
5 Chickie’s Trombone 2:37
6 Too Much Lovin’ 2:33
7 Sugar Guaguanco 3:56
8 Figaro 3:57
9 Ordinary Guy 3:25

Bass – Louis Devis
Congas – Victor Gonzalez
Percussion [Bell] – Richie Cortez
Piano, Vocals – Joe Bataan
Timbales – Eddie Nater
Trombone – Joe “Chickie” Fuente, Ruben Hernandez
Vocals – Joe Pagan

Design – Izzy Sanabria
Engineer – Irving Greenbaum
Producer – Jerry Masucci
Recorded by / musical director – Johnny Pacheco


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  1. Bataan’s name is on my radar from a recent compilation I got (It’s A Good Good Feeling The Latin Soul Of Fania Records 2021) that features about 20 or so of his songs. Great stuff. Really happy to get this. Thank you Dr. V!

    • I’ve been considering that compilation but I think there are 2 distinct versions, one on vinyl and one as a CD box with more songs? I mentioned it in the blog post above as possibly signaling that Concord/Craft will be reissuing some of Bataan’s albums soon.

  2. Just got a chance to listen to this and it’s absolutely wonderful. Funny that the credits don’t specifically mention Bataan as being on piano/vocals. I can just see Los Lobos sitting around listening to this and discussing a possible cover of one of these tunes. Thanks again!

    • …..and I meant the credits on the actual album artwork, not your credits which of course do clear up that he was on piano/vocals.

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