Numero Group: By The Numbers


Our Top 10 of 2011

Every year we take the temperature of the Numero office to find out what people thought of all the crap we dreamed up in a year. Here’s the top 10 (of 14) weighted amongst the 11 full and part time staff members of the label.


10. Little Ed & the Soundmasters 3×45

Being the youngest employee at Numero, it seems fitting that Little Ed and the Sound Masters would be my first full design project. I throw around the term “pixel pusher,” but seriously, by having an extra hand in the design department, we were able to integrate design into every element of this release, making this box set more than just a few records thrown haphazardly  into a box. For those familiar with Light: On The South Side, the Little Ed box answers any remaining questions about this family bar band backed/fronted by their 8 year old drumming brother. For those who aren’t, may I suggest you buy both? —Nate Phillips

09. Doc Rhymin “Dictionary Rap”+2 12”

Rap was its own greatest recruitment tool; what rap fan in the late ’80s wouldn’t want to be a rapper? Lyrical marathons of this ilk start in the cafeteria, gain momentum by the lockers, and are debuted on the bus. Was enough afterschool revenue squandered to record, but not enough to press? Unfortunately, these rhyme practitioners still elude us. Even contributors from the Cleveland Style compilation, a regional rap survey from the same era, failed to recognize any of these three impressionable emcees by name or nature. The lone rap entry in Thomas Boddie’s everyman recording log, Doc Rhymin’ is a idyllic artifact of inland rap in its emergent stages. Short explanation: It’s bonkers. —Jon Kirby

08. Titan: It’s All Pop! 4LP

I admit it, I can be had by colored vinyl. So I felt no burn when a scant 500 copies of this dove headlong into the red—a translucent red, no less, about as transparently candy-like as the bulk of the pop confections within. Numero’s first foray into the non-black, 024V upgrades the tidy original 2CD package’s contact-sheet chic into an assault on the senses carried out by pic sleeves, glossies, and mimeographed posters, all in glorious 12×12. The hook-mining of Titan’s Mark Prellburg and Tom Sorrells, though, is the coup de grace, especially considering the LP version’s 10 extra tracks, all future candidates for that “Wait a second, I’m singing along to this” moment. You know it’s coming, too. —Judson Picco

07. Penny & the Quarters “You And Me” b/w “Some Other Love” 45

What I love about this record is not just its casual, tossed-off, one-take vibe, its youthful innocence, or its almost-Motown-if-only-for-lack-of-a-full-production potential. No, what I really love about “You And Me” is that it’s a hit. The sole musical focus and turning point of “Blue Valentine,” an independent film that found its way out of the art houses and into the hearts of couples everywhere, “You And Me” sold like McFuckingRib. At its peak we were averaging 500 downloads a day and burned through our first pressing faster than the FBI burned through Waco. A great song? Yes it is. A great song that everyone loves? Shit, isn’t that what this business is supposed to be about? —Tom Lunt

06. Stone Coal White: S/T LP/CD

In the liner notes to Cali-Tex’s first album in three years you’ll find the words, “as unique as anything recorded anywhere at the time”. It would be quite hard to argue with that statement. The rare sound of these hazed out psych-funk trailblazers is unprecedented, no matter how deep you dig. The 45’s captured on this release, plus the additional four we scraped off a waterlogged tape, shine a light on a midnight hour, raw as steel, black as smoke motorcycle scene that no other place and time could ever replicate. Stone Coal White just feels like a dark relic that has every right to be preserved, up there with the finest to come from the already unique Dayton, Ohio funk scene. Also, we got an actual tombstone cut for the cover, which sits in our yard and is pretty awesome. —Ryan Razowsky

 

05. Father’s Children: Who’s Gonna Save The World LP+45/CD

This nugget of previously unreleased soul from D.C.-based vocal group Father’s Children might of been the most slept on Numero release of year. In 1972 Father’s Children found their home outside the Chocolate City, nestling into DC’s vanilla suburbs at Robert “Jose” Williams DB Sound Studios. Like Kohoutek, touted by Time Magazine as “The Comet of The Century,” Father’s Children passed by Earth in 1973 and was quickly forgotten. Who’s Gonna Save The World is a hypothesis of the album that could have been, a comet for this new century that’s still circling around your local record store. —Zach Myers

04. Willie Wright: Telling The Truth LP+45/CD+5″ 

The first time I heard Willie Wright’s Telling The Truth was when our friend Douglas Mcgowan of Yoga Records had sent us MP3s of that LP which he had found in a Massachusetts thrift store. Needless to say, we listen to a lot of music at the office and our attention span is pretty kinetic and highly opinionated—Numero HQ is not for the faint of heart. But Willie Wright’s soulful folk songs seemed to immediately transcend all of the snarkiness and critical nature of everyone’s various tastes in music. And therein lies the beauty of this simple but unforgettable album. To me, it crushes anything in Terry Callier’s catalog—the immediate touchstone for this type of music. It was my go to album throughout most of the year because really, what is better to put on then some breezy sunshine music as a coping mechanism to get through the wretched Chicago winter, or to cruise around with the windows down along the Pacific Coast highway. According to my iTunes & iPod I listened to these crude MP3s over 150 times before we got the new masters late in 2010, and I haven’t stopped listening to it since then. For some reason these simple songs never get old to me, they just keep getting better. — Michael Slaboch

 

03. Eccentric Soul: The Nickel & Penny Labels 2LP/CD

The cuts compiled from Pegue’s Nickel and Penny labels are, in a way, a love letter to the magic of the man himself.  He was moved by these tracks, and he wanted to share that with the masses. Admittedly I’m generally not into ballads, but the opening to “Never More” by Little Ben & the Cheers just sends chills down my spine. And it just gets better from there; the groovy, girly sounds of “Fall In Love Again”,  Jerry Townes’ rockin’ “You Are My Sunshine”…and then Little Ben and the Cheers just absolutely slay it on “Mighty, Might Lover” a choice mid-album burner. Things heat up even more with a couple of stunners by the South Shore Commission, and ultra funky, but not related, Brothers & Sisters.  Then, as the album progresses, the production gets weirder and weirder, culminating in the completely whacked out “Sign of the Zodiac” by South Suburban Electric Strings, a nice little instrumental cut with a bit of off-kilter drumming complimented by brilliant orchestration and some great funk guitar work.  Then to bring it all full circle, “The Ember Song” is the perfect capstone, because the ember of Pegue’s influence really is and should be forever.

Growing up in suburbs of Chicago, I’ve always loved the role that WGCI has played in Chicago’s soul scene. To me, the old soul and dusties that were played were almost otherworldly compared to the alternative rock radio and pop overload I was used to. And nobody championed those dusties better than WGCI’s own Richard Pegue. When he told you he was playing “the best music of your life,” it wasn’t just hyperbole. Pegue meant it, and it was gospel truth. Because when you heard those cuts, they became part of you, and not in that annoying can’t get it out of your head sort of way, this was deep. Real deep. — Dustin Drase

02. Local Customs: Pressed/Dubbed/Burned At Boddie 2LP/CD

Our only regret this year was making the record so limited. Just 1000 LPs, 1000 CDs, and 300 cassettes exist, which is a shame for a record of this caliber. Such is the life of a mix tape. When we first excavated the Boddie archive in the summer of 2009, we were pleasantly surprised with the volume of tapes by non-Boddie labeled artists that were still on the premises. And not just tapes, but unused labels, order forms, stampers, dead stock, jackets, test pressings, acetates, and all manners of record pressing-related ephemera. We knew a project existed among all this detritus, we just needed to listen to the tapes to find it. Using Dante Carfagna’s discography and a red binder kept in Thomas Boddie’s desk drawer that listed nearly every record ever made on site, we cobbled together a dream compilation. We assigned a half number not to denigrate the album, but rather to tie it in as a companion to the larger Boddie box we knew was coming (The concept was grabbed from the classic “split label” releases that Dischord employed in the ’80s and ’90s). Tracks like the Imperial Wonders, Los Nombres, and Harvey & the Phenomenals were shoe-ins, but it’s the outliers that really made this record special; Slippery When Wet, Donald Eckert, and Wicked Lester are among my favorite discoveries of the year. And that’s saying a lot because we uncover cool shit almost everyday. Perhaps most remarkable is the possibility of a sequel, as we left an equal number of treasures on the cutting room floor. I suppose this is what 10 year anniversary editions are made for.  —Ken Shipley

01. Boddie Recording Company: Cleveland, Ohio 5LP/3CD

It’s no surprise that Boddie Recording Company galloped easily to the #1 slot. Six years in the making, with over two years spent just evaluating the material. Five trips to Cleveland, countless meals at Yours Truly, hundreds of master reels listened to, thousands of pages of documents sorted, dozens of letters written to artists and group members… the Numero office has really been the Boddie Historical Society for the last few years. To see the massive, extraordinary results is a triumph around here. Sure, it was delayed weeks by a shipping crisis involving a lost trucking container and a drunken train conductor. But as Boddie was plagued by rotten luck during their time, we expected some of it would rub off on our box.

Some have called Boddie our finest work and wondered where we can possibly go next. The kids in the mail order department have pleaded with us to not do anything like it again. Only one group is going to be disappointed. Sorry Nate Phillips, it’s going to be yours. —Rob Sevier


1 Comment so far
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My top ten list of 2011. The whole damn list!
Dull Tool Dim Bulb
http://dulltooldimbulb.blogspot.com/2011/12/entire-top-ten-picks-of-2011-music-list.html

Comment by Jim Linderman




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