I’ve seen Joe perform quite a few times now but I’m still jealous of my Bay Area folks who may get to see him at Yoshi’s next weekend. Joe tends to come through L.A. with some frequency but his Bay Area trips are fewer and far between.1

At least this time around, Joe is doing things up proper, with several appearances. On Thursday, he’ll be at the Bayanihan Community Center (free!) and one night later, he’ll be at the Milk Bar. If you don’t catch him this time around; you have no excuse!

As it were, I just got this in the mail today:

Joe Bataan: Crystal Blue Persuasion
From 7″ (Uptite, 197?). Also on Singin’ Some Soul.

This is Joe’s version of Tommy James and the Shondells’ massive hit, “Crystal Blue Persuasion” but according to Joe…he was supposed to release his version on single first. This is what he told me last year when I was interviewing him for the liner notes for Singin’ Some Soul:

What happened was that Tommy James had recorded and Morris Levy offered the song to Jerry [Masucci], for me to do it. And it was on [James’s] album, and they had no intention of releasing it as a single. But after he heard my rendition of it, he immediately released Tommy James’s record. That was supposed to be my road to fame. ‘Cause we definitely knew that we were gonna go ‘pop’ with that song and that we probably would’ve got some support from Morris Levy and Roulette Records. Well, that didn’t transpire. What [Levy] did was a double-cross, in I guess, business terms. He went and released Tommy James’ record. And of course Tommy James, you know, it went off to the Top 10 in the Billboard Charts.

And while he did that, I released mine, and of course, mine went to number six in New York on [WW]RL. And we sold a lot but nothing like he did, his was a million seller, and what it did was, he took the Black stations from me! Iince then, I’ve performed it in front of Tommy James. Everyone’s always said that my rendition was better. I don’t want to argue about that, but we had more going on with it.

  1. In 2005, I wrote a piece for the SF Bay Guardian about Joe’s first trip back to S.F. since 1975.


I should have done these a while back but better late than never. When you start researching Latin soul, you realize it’s hard to come by reliable artist discographies, especially when they record for different labels over the course of their careers. In some cases, you have to disentangle a lot of confusing information, such as the surprising number of errors on the site or the fact that Remo re-released a couple of Rodriguez’s albums with new titles.

I was going to add my Speed Records discography but Reynaldo82 already has one up (I put in my recommendations into his comments section). At some future point, I might try to do one for Joe Cuba but he has several early releases (pre-Tico) that I’m still trying to track down so I’m not quite there yet.

Folks should feel free to send in additions/corrections via comments!