Photo Courtesy of Jason Bugg
There is Soul music, then there is Soul music. Representing the South Side of Chicago and taking his name from something sweet, like say Domino sugar, Renaldo Jones aka Renaldo Domino is a Chicago Soul legend. Starting out by doing talent shows, covering Curtis Mayfield, Eddie Kendricks, and Smokey Robinson with a band called The Magnificinets in the mid 60’s, this teenager proved he had the chops. Releasing a demo record on Arnell when he wasn’t even out of high school, Domino parlayed this low budget release (with the help of manager Sandy Johnson) to sign with Smash/ Mercury Records. Referred to Mercury from ABC record legend Johnny Pate, Domino went on to record for the Blue Rock impression of Mercury to start, the label “Don’t Go Away” is on. When Johnson got him released from Mercury’s contract, he moved over to Twinight and released “Not Too Cool To Cry” in 1971, which coincidentally was one of his biggest hits. Brought in by producer (and sometimes backup singer Richard Pegue), the backing band was The Southshore Commission. He also put out “Let Me Come Within” on the same label at around the same time. This was his first stab at a funky, upbeat number, James Brown impression and all. Sought after by funk junkies, this record is a scorcher. Domino has said as he wrote this tune he was influenced by the horns from the Rock band Chicago while making this record. Unfortunately, his last record on Twinight was pressed but distributed to radio stations sparsely. Domino eventually left Twinight. There were talks with a move to Curton and Fountain labels, but a move never happened.
“ I sang so good it was as sweet as a five pound bag of sugar. ”-Renaldo Domino
He, unfortunately, would only retain a local following. Domino toured around the Chicago area in places such as Milwaukee and Gary, Indiana with artists like Gene Chandler, the Chi-lites and Sam and Dave. He even played shows with James Brown and the Jackson 5. The funny thing about Domino, was that he would remain a regional artist. When Domino ventured out nationally to tour, backed by his band The Dots, the level of success and recognition was not as high as it was back home. Domino then came off the road (and music) to focus on other employment. He hadn’t played out since 1971 until the guys at Dig Deeper here in Brooklyn brought him to perform a few years go. His Funk and Soul stuff are really great records, and if you can find the originals you are doing pretty well. His Twinight stuff has been reissued by Numero, so if you can’t get the original, you can still pick up a piece of Chicago music history.
“Don’t Go Away” was arranged by Johnny Pate and is an beautiful upbeat Soul side. The drums hit pretty decent, the horns are tight, and Domino’s voice, equally influenced by Curtis and Smokey, shows signs of a man who should have gone further in his music career. If you are not familiar with Renaldo Domino, please do yourself a favor and get familiar. One of the unsung heroes of Soul music, Domino sounds just as good today as he did in the late 60’s.