Numero Group: By The Numbers

Unravelling the USA Records 100 series mystery
October 8, 2008, 9:58 pm
Filed under: A Light On The Southside, Discographies | Tags: ,

Our licensing for the upcoming compilation A Light On The Southside has led us into the darkest corners of Chicago’s seedy record history. The original USA label was an offshoot of Paul Glass’ All State Distribution firm, issuing a plethora of garage, soul, and blues sides before shuttering in the late 60s. A few years later, and under new ownership, the label hit reset and started the 100 series, eventually issuing a handful of records nationally that All State was already distributing locally. This is made evident by the myriad dead wax markings that show the records being cut at various plants, with no discernible catalog numbering system outside of USA’s printed label. Here are a few fun examples:

USA 101, 102: Both Lost Weekend 45s were simply new pressings of original 45s with the same plates, done as part of a distribution deal. There was never a licensing arrangement. This has been cited by the band, who retained their master tapes. USA 103: Jackie Ross has Cedric catalog numbers in its matrix, although it was never issued on Cedric directly. 

USA 105: The Brown Family, who we work closely with, didn’t even know that there ever was a USA pressing of Sandy Cleveland’s Bandit 45. The catalog numbers gel with other Bandit catalog numbers.

USA 106: The plates of the Shadows 45 are identical to their release on Golden Sound. 

USA 108: The Mod Singers 45 has Savern catalog numbers on its plates, even though only one side of it came out on Savern. We have compared the plates of that one side and they are identical to the Savern pressing.

USA 110: The producer of the High Society 45, Philip Davis,  claims that he was ripped off by USA and that USA was never supposed to put it on their label to begin with.

The current owner of USA has no masters, and likely no paperwork on any of these records, leaving the fate of these 45s in limbo. 

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