Joe Bataan

Mestizo

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Culturally, mestizos are folks of mixed Latin and Indian heritage who live along the U.S./Mexico borderlands; Filipino-born Joe Bataan felt enough of that same duality to name his record label Salsoul (salsa plus soul, see) and to name his late-'70s backing group his Mestizo Band. A retitled reissue of 1980's Mestizo, with no bonus tracks and most of the songs edited into lengthy suites, Joe Bataan and His Mestizo Band is primarily a late-era disco record, with only minimal Latin accents on songs like the by-the-numbers opener, "Mestizo." However, by 1980, Bataan was susssed enough to tell not only that disco was dying, but that something new was taking its place: the single "Rap-O Clap-O" was one of the first examples of R&B glomming onto the new sound, a pale rewrite of "Rapper's Delight" that today sounds oddly charming in how naff it is, and that sense of not-quite-rightness is enhanced later in the song's rather pointless reiteration "Rap-O Dance-O," which simply boosts the bass and wah-wah guitar a little louder than the vocals. Still, none of this compares to the album's monumentally odd high point, "I See Your Hiney," which has both the album's most attractive beat and a chorus that warrants quoting in full: "I see your hiney/It's black and shiny/If you don't hide it/I'm gonna bite it." Only during the disco era, folks.

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