When we started working on the Capitol City Soul collection back in 2006, Dean Francis shared with us a hand-drawn rendition of his popular dance tune, “Funky Disposition”. Our designer Leland Meiners has made it come to life as a .gif, look for it spreading like wildfire on Reddit or 4chan as a snarky response to a n00b.
Check the tune here! (and look for the Capitol City Soul release, available for presale now!)
Filed under: Capitol City Soul, Capsoul | Tags: How I Met Your Mother, Low Winter Sun, Psych, Queer As Folk, Weeds, Who Killed The Electric Car
You don’t name your label Numero without some interest in symmetry amongst your sprawling catalog numbers, and alert listeners will have probably already picked up on a few patterns. But nothing could be more symbolic than our release number 051, where we return to the scene of release 001 to clean up. As any of our listeners already know, Eccentric Soul: The Capsoul Label is our best loved and most timeless release.
We’ve done quite a bit for the legacy of Capsoul since that humble beginning. Besides the surprising success of the release, the most heard songs have appeared in a myriad of other media. The songs from the Capsoul label have appeared in many movies (In The Mix, Who Killed The Electric Car, and Diggers), television programs (How I Met Your Mother, Weeds, Queer As Folk, Low Winter Sun, Psych), and advertisements (most notable the Blackberry commercial from 2013). That amounts to millions of people hearing (if only in passing) what had been a largely forgotten catalog of great soul music. These ongoing successes also managed to shine a bright light on some of that collections oversights.
Capitol City Soul paints a more detailed picture of what was really going on in Columbus, Ohio from the late 1960s to the mid-1970s. It starts before Capsoul, with groups like The Soul Partners and The Chandlers, and continues on past Capsoul’s untimely demise, following artists like The Kool Blues, The Four Mints, Dean Francis, and Jeff Smith through the later dimensions of their unsung careers. All of this material was unearthed in the ten years since our Capsoul project launched the label, and almost all of it was previously unreleased (or at least barely known.) While it may not have the fanfare of the original release, it was a truly unique document that only Numero (and co-producer Dante Carfagna) could ever be in a position to unearth. Pre-order now for early shipping!
There it is. Doesn’t look like much, what with its statue of President William McKinley (best known for being assassinated by an anarchist) and generic Doric columns. Columbus might be the most unassuming hotbed of soul music in the United States, and it certainly never matched the volume of Memphis, Chicago, Jackson, or of course Detroit, but the sheer quality is what is really remarkable. If you thought we would have thoroughly tapped these natural resources with the Prix label, the Capsoul label, the Four Mints LP, the Wee LP, and the Penny & the Quarters 45 (and myriad others, like the Suspicious Can Openers and Now 45s in our Eccentric Soul: Omnibus) you are mistaken. We are far from done with Columbus, the material we are mining is just too strong. We’re diving back in with this summer’s Capitol City Soul presentation: Twenty underground soul masterworks from the Capsoul family (extended and immediate). We’ve mined the archives of Bill Moss, Jeff Smith, Dean Francis, and others to create a collection of virtually unheard material. Only a few tracks were ever even released on even a local level. Keep your eyes here for more on this project, ten years in the making, over the next few weeks.
Summer is the weekend of all seasons, and this summer we’ve got two ice cold compilations buried in our styrofoam cooler that will sound especially good in the sun, yet just as refreshing in the shade.
Taking a long look back at the Numero Group’s first release, Eccentric Soul: The Capsoul Label, we revisit Columbus, Ohio to offer listeners a generous portion of Eccentric Soul: Capital City Soul. Above is label owner Bill Moss whose apropos “Number One” made his little enterprise a great place for Numero to begin their journey a decade ago. What to expect: More good stuff.
We then head north to Cleveland, the setting of Eccentric Soul: The Way Out Label. From 1962 to 1973, Way Out evolved from doo-wop foundry to lawless clubhouse for number runners, slick-talking entrepreneurs, and Cleveland Browns. Above is Jesse Fisher, one of the last men standing at Way Out’s E. 55th St. headquarters. With a total of 40 songs spread over 3LPs or 2CDs, subscribers and preordering individuals will be awarded and entire bonus LP of bonus material. What to expect: More in-sounds from Way Out.
Both titles will hit shelves, on-line shopping carts, and party playlists on June 24th, 2014.
Yes, that was Marion Black’s “Who Knows” from our inaugural release, Eccentric Soul: The Capsoul Label in the Super Bowl. Although the commercial was tucked away in the middle of the strange and unprecedented Super Bowl power outage Couchgate, “Who Knows” can now be considered the most-heard Numero track ever (not to mention its use in cable shows such as Weeds, Queer As Folk and unseen movies such as Usher vehicle In The Mix). It fulfills a vision Bill had when we first met him in 2003, that his work’s best years were yet ahead. Thanks to Blackberry for putting Marion Black and Bill Moss’ work in front of hundreds of millions worldwide. Grab the CD or LP here.
Filed under: Capsoul | Tags: Kool Blues, Nick Tolford, Simpsons, Spoonful Records
Our friend Brett at Spoonful Records in Columbus, Ohio, sent over this terrific video wherein local boy Nick Tolford does a heavenly cover of the Kool Blues’ “I Want To Be Ready.” Don’t let Tolford’s Leon Kompowsky-ish look fool you, he’s channeling his inner-Stevie by way of Norman Whiteside here.
We’re still reeling from the news of our friend Dean Francis’ passing yesterday. Starting with his kid group, the Fantastic Parrals, he has been making music in Columbus since the mid-1960s. His group The Soul Rockers issued “Funky Disposition” and “Tippin’” on Hillside (recorded at Larry McKenzie’s studio) which firmly secured his position as a force in Columbus. What really put him on the map was his connection to Bill Moss’ Capsoul label. He put every ounce of creative energy in the early 1970s into Capsoul, working as a “staff” songwriter for the tiny imprint. “Row My Boat”, “Too Far Gone”, “In A Rut, and “They Were Wrong” all made it to the pressing plant. “No Longer”, “Endlessly”, “Hysteria”, and “It Really Hurts To Lose A Love” stayed in the can, the former two seeing release only as part of the Eccentric Soul series. Contemporaneously, he recorded with Associated Press Band (although they didn’t issue a record until later) and wrote a musical called Society Line, performed at Ohio State. After Capsoul’s dissolution he continued working with the Kool Blues duo, making them a trio called Jupiter’s Release. They issued a single on the Owl label in 1976. In the meantime, he penned some tunes for another Columbus vocal group, Timeless Legend, including “Baby Don’t Do This To Me”. He reappears on Tom Murphy’s Owl label in 1977 with Dean Francis’ Funk-Harmonic.At the end of the decade he was touring with seminal Ohio stage band (and recording artist) Sun and producing work for younger artists Adria Shahid and Blain Emerson. Much of his material in the 1980s was socially conscious, including an anti-crack cocaine rap and pleas for non-violence. In the 1990s, Soulciety Records in Germany contacted Dean and brought him back to his roots. He toured Europe and issued three CDs (one of which also came out on LP.) All of this gives testament to how prolific he was, none of it gives any sense of who he was as a man. No matter how much talent he had, no matter how many brilliant songs he wrote, he was always humble and generous with anyone, experience or amateur, who was making music in Columbus. He was never beaten down by the terrible affliction that he dealt with the fifteen years of his life, that saw him lose the use of his hands and constantly enduring surgeries and treatments. He never ceased recording and songwriting, even as it became nearly impossible. We at the Numero Group are humbled to understand what he was able to achieve with unbearable obstacles. We’re just pleased to have known him well, and that we can help pay tribute to him.
Of all the many folks that we’ve lost along the way, few could ever be remembered as dearly as Dean Francis. The Numero Group has been knowing Dean since it’s first release, 001 Eccentric Soul: The Capsoul Label, which features his songwriting and instrumental talents. His efforts are still being felt in Numero releases with the still mysterious catalog number 045 that we’re putting the finishing touches on now. He was a true pioneer of soul music in Columbus (as Jerry McMahan from the Suspicious Can Openers lamented to me today.) He was the definition of true believer. Stricken with a condition that caused his skin and internal organs to harden, Dean had numerous fingers amputated over the years, making it impossible to play the drums. He continued to write and compose with his one or two usable fingers until the end. Seven years ago, he even took the Greyhound bus to Chicago to crash on Numero co-owner Rob Sevier’s couch to hang out at our new office and bring some master tapes for the reissue of the Four Mints LP (the alternate versions of “In A Rut” and “Too Far Gone”.) Even over the last few weeks when he was dying and knew it, he wouldn’t cop to it. Only our last conversation did he start to show signs of strain… he was weak and having some trouble talking. Truly one of the most beautiful people we’ve ever encountered in the many years of doing this, and connected to more releases than any one other artist.
Dean passed on at 3:30 this afternoon and it’s been a truly sad time, calling his many friends who may not know otherwise. I think it’s impossible to overstate our love for this man and his talents. We wanted to get this note up today, but tomorrow we’ll share some more stories and photos from Dean’s long and accomplished career.
On Numero’s very first release, Eccentric Soul: The Capsoul Label, label owner Bill Moss told of his musical meeting with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. :
“I had the pleasure of meeting Doctor King. What’d I say? Sock it to ‘em Soul Brother! He was down in Alabama doing his thing. Do it again! Sock it to ‘em Soul Brother!“
Solid advice, from one Soul Brother to another. In reverence of Martin Luther King Jr., Numero is offering a free download of this occasion-appropriate tune from our catalog.
Filed under: Capsoul, Methodology, Uncategorized | Tags: Big K.R.I.T., Capsoul, Curren$y, Jay-Z, Johnson Hawkins Tatum & Durr, Kayne West, Mobb Deep, sampling, Wiz Khalifa
With the recent exposure of the unlicensed use of Syl Johnson’s “Different Strokes” in “The Joy” featured on Jay-Z and Kayne West’s Watch The Throne (Deluxe Version) album, let it be known that this isn’t the first time we’ve come across people jacking our songs for their own commercial use. Our first and best selling release, Eccentric Soul: The Capsoul Label, features one of the most sampled tracks from our catalog.
After scoring an successful audition with Capsoul’s Bill Moss, the Revelations which comprised of Vigil Johnson, Al Dawson, Willie Tatum, and Norris Durr found themselves cutting their first side for the label in 1971. Moss changed the group’s name to comprise all of their last names; then he finally mistakenly changed their name to Johnson, Hawkins, Tatum, and Durr for the labels on the 45. The A side “You Can’t Blame Me”, features the haunting lead vocal from Vigil Johnson, it’s no wonder why the hook is ripe for choppin and loopin.
Some of the biggest up and coming names in the hip hop industry at the moment including Big K.R.I.T., Curren$y, and Wiz Khalifa are featured below with the fourth belonging to Queensbridge’s finest veteran duo, Mobb Deep. Ironically, all these tracks are featured on each of the artists own mixtapes. Sadly, “You Can’t Blame Me” gets shafted even worse then the customers who buy or download these mix-tapes. For the most part mixtapes come off more as a sloppy hodgepodge of beats and mediocre lyrics than a fully conceived work that really represents an artist. Broken promises of featuring a guest artist’s 16 bars or a producer’s beat are are given redemption, usually stuffed between tepid studio scraps. Take a listen below on how each are flipped. Enjoy.
Johnson, Hawkins, Tatum, and Durr – You Can’t Blame Me
Big K.R.I.T. – Booth N Da Sky
Curren$y – On My Way
Mobb Deep – What Goes On
Wiz Khalfia – When You Find