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
Filed under: Capsoul, Fern Jones, Prix | Tags: Fern Jones, Marion Black, Penny & the Quarters, Them Two
These never cease to amaze us:
Fern Jones’ “I Ain’t Got Time” lip-synched, well sort of.
Penny & the Quarters finally gets the twee rendition it’s been begging for by Designs For Living (who?).
Conor Byrne slaughters Them Two’s “Am I A Good Man, thankfully it appears that no one in the crowd is paying attention.
Finally, Marion Black’s “Who Knows” gets used as background for a school film.
Filed under: Capsoul | Tags: Bill Moss, Capsoul, Columbus, Johnson Hawkins Tatum & Durr, Used Kids
One of the best parts of going on the Eccentric Soul Revue tour was the record stores. Numero was hitting 3-5 different shops every day, plying our wares and emptying their bins. The absolute highlight of the 20 shops we visited had to be Used Kids in Columbus, Ohio, not only for their deep $1 racks, but because the proprieters have been big Numero supporters from day one. It hasn’t hurt that we’ve made three Columbus records in the past six years, we’ve given as good as we’ve got certainly. Except this time.
Tucked away under the counter in anticipation of our arrival was an acetate that a customer had turned up in the $1 bins, a record that could not be sold for $1. The entry for “stand up guy” should have a picture of Dan from Used Kids next to it. Not only did he refuse to sell it to the digger, he refused to sell it to us, instead he donated it to our growing archive of Columbus memorabilia. What you see above is an original cut of Johnson, Hawkins, Tatum & Durr’s “A World With Out You,” with Bill Moss’ unforgettable scribble on the bottom. Dan, if you’re reading this, you certainly made our day three Monday’s back.
With the possibility of taking the Eccentric Soul Revue on the road this autumn, Ken & Rob called up Capsoul’s, Marion Black, to have him sing “Who Knows” over the phone to hear if he’s still got his strong pipes.
A couple of years ago we received a mysterious package that was filled with this outstanding chalkboard sketch of the illustrious Bill Moss from our first release, Eccentric Soul: The Capsoul Label. Last week I took the time to touch up the drawing since it was starting to fade away. The only information we know about the artist is that he signed it, Jones ’06. If you are out there Jones, thank you!