Darondo – Listen to My Song: Music City Sessions

Back in 70s Oakland, California, streetwise hipster William Darondo Pulliam was a funky singer-songwriter who could also swing the sweetest soul west of Al Green. His handful of idiosyncratic 45 releases are crowned by the heartbreaking sound of his 1973 local hit `Didn’t I‘, on…

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Back in 70s Oakland, California, streetwise hipster William Darondo Pulliam was a funky singer-songwriter who could also swing the sweetest soul west of Al Green. His handful of idiosyncratic 45 releases are crowned by the heartbreaking sound of his 1973 local hit `Didn’t I‘, on the collectable Music City label.

The hot news in funk and 70s soul circles has been the recent discovery of Darondo’s Music City master tapes, throwing up two albums worth of raunchy Bay Area funk and idiosyncratic soul balladry. “Listen To My Song – The Music City Sessions” collects this unprecedented goldmine of grooves, and shows off Darondo in his streetwise prime.

Together with his musical collaborator Al Tanner, Darondo was an excellent songwriter with a unique style and the contents of this outstanding anthology, recorded between 1972 and 1974, are bound to please collectors and general funk and soul fans alike.

Tracks
A1 I Don’t Understand 3:00
A2 I’m Gonna Love You 3:32
A3 Didn’t I 3:27
A4 Luscious Lady 3:13
A5 Saving My Love 3:11
A6 Gimme Some 3:01
B1 Get Up Off Your Butt 6:14
B2 I’m Lonely 4:24
B3 Do You Really Love Me 2:56
B4 Listen To My Song 4:15

What an outstanding find by BGP of an early 70’s lost album by recently rediscovered funk maven and polymath William Pulliam (AKA Darondo) emanating from the vault of the Bay Area, CA, Music City record label.

The music is a mix of ethereal soul ballads, upbeat R&B stompers and funk burners, almost all excellent and with only two tracks overlapping with the earlier “Let My People Go” compilation on the US Ubiquity records and in much better sound quality (these tracks sound like they were mastered from tape unlike the earlier compilation where vinyl sources were used with no noise reduction processing so ‘pop and crackle’ was the order of the day). There are one or two tracks where there are audible flaws on the source tape but nothing too off putting and certainly better than being mastered from vinyl! Darondo himself is on superb form throughout sounding a bit like Al Green with a heavy head cold but with a much grittier outlook and ‘in your face’ sound which can be preferable on the upbeat tracks.

A lot of these tracks are basically demos (which the liner notes commendably admit to upfront) and as a result it somewhat reminds me of Al Green’s outtakes collection, “Listen: The Rarities” which is one of my favorites of Al’s many albums just because in its stripped down sound it is atypical of most of his output.

Specific highlights are hard to identify since it is so consistent throughout but the superb “Didn’t I” single has never sounded better and “I’m Lonely” is cut from the same ethereal cloth sounds very fine and of the funk tracks “Luscious Lady” hits the spot being as lascivious as it title implies.

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