Let My People Go 

This Bay-area hustler, comedian and part-time singer, isn't just some slicked-back relic; rather, he's your jive-ass neighbor who parks his Rolls Royce on the lawn. He's your Auntie's unemployed boyfriend with a pocket full of dough — the Negro who's as cool as the other side of the pillow, with gilded teeth and gold rings, and a heart full of, well, you get the point.

Recorded three decades ago, essentially as an opportunity for Darondo to cruise around with his own theme music, Let My People Go is a nine-song vignette peering into the laid-back world of Bay area funk, soul and leisure. His voice, at every decibel, personifies the early '70s well; each wah-wah thump and sultry guitar lick provides a romantic context for the listener. (Note: Darondo's song "Didn't I," which is included here, was easily the best feature on Gilles Peterson's soul comp released a few months ago.)

The album includes three rare, 7-inch singles, their B-sides, and three powerful songs recently discovered on a demo reel. The mood is sex-funky with a pinch of rebellion tossed in. Basement soul doesn't rise much higher than this.

Jonathan Cunningham writes about music for Metro Times. Send comments to [email protected].

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