Bandcamp can be hit or miss, but boy do I have a hit for you today. As part of their ‘Album of the Day’ series, Bandcamp has released a long-since out of print record from the disco era. “Doing Our Thing with Pride,” is the 1977 sole studio album from Greenville SC soul outfit The Al-Dos Band. Until literally last week, you could not listen to any of these songs without dropping literally thousands of dollars on Discogs. You can check the Bandcamp page for more information on the reissue, but today, we’re just going to give this thing the straightforward review it deserved 45 years ago.
The Al-Dos band skirt the lines of many retro styles. This was very common the 70s, when black music hit the mainstream and interesting experiments were, at least briefly, rewarded. The sound is clearly influenced by the contemporary trends in dance like funk and disco, but the core sound is more traditional. The best term is probably ‘country soul’ as the Al-Dos band have the most southern of soul aesthetics, at times bordering on gospel influence. It’s a fusion that was surprisingly rare in the decade following Sly and the Family Stone. The music is clearly steeped in the tradition of the black church, while remaining light, danceable, and sensual.
The lyrical themes are probably easy to infer from the album title: “Doing Our Thing with Pride.” The songwriter clearly wanted to continue in the tradition of “Say it Loud I’m Black and Proud,” or “What’s Going On,” writing songs that aren’t so much pollical theses as they are statements of intent and empowerment. Accordingly, much of the album isn’t political at all, instead taking themes of heartbreak and loss that transcend the era. The result is an album that is about as quintessentially 1977 as it gets, without ever becoming dated.
Music nerds like to think the best music will always eventually rise to the top, but the long-term obscurity of small-label wonders like the Al-Dos, screwed over by industry, geography, and happenstance, challenge that narrative. So much wonderful music remains out of print in our modern era. So, if you’re tired of buying blockbuster albums on vinyl for extortionate prices, take this album as your lesson to buy something for $5 from a band no one remembers. You might just find the next big discovering in record collecting.