Berkeley-born singer, songwriter, and guitarist William Pulliam, who recorded under the name Darondo, released just three 45 RPM singles during his brief recording career. His second, 1973’s “Didn’t I,” on which he wove an eerily romantic spell by overdubbing his high falsetto and gravelly baritone voices over a cushion of flute and out-of-tune strings, was a substantial Bay Area R&B hit. He cut one more single for his own label, then disappeared for three decades, during which time he acquired legendary status among collectors of rare soul records. Ubiquity Records tracked him down seven years ago and issued a CD made up of five of his six sides and four other tunes from tapes Darondo had in his closet. And now, with Listen to My Song, we finally get to hear another batch of long-lost tracks.
You look so good to me, I wanna bite ya, Darondo snarls in gritty, low-tenor tones on “Luscious Lady,” one of sixteen tunes (including “Didn’t I”) recorded in 1973 and ’74 at Music City Records’ primitive studio on East 14th Street in Oakland. Many were intended for release on LP but were kept in the can. They’ve finally surfaced here on England’s BGP label, thanks to El Cerrito music archivist Alec Palao. The influence of Al Green is evident in Darondo’s impassioned delivery and the frequent layering of his multi-octave pipes, although the syncopated grooves, anchored by drummer Danny Williams and bassist Bronco Billy, draw more on James Brown funk. (BGP)