Numero Group: By The Numbers

The Hunt For Red Orktober
September 22, 2015, 1:25 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , ,

One of the things we’re asked frequently (in interviews and otherwise) regards the amount of linear time it takes to put a release together. This, is always a difficult question to answer. Projects usually develop slowly and amorphously, information trickling in slowly over months, years, sometimes a decade, or more. Or, they happen in a flash of inspiration. In the case of our Ork Records compilation, the answer is almost exactly three years since the initial email exchange between Numero partners Rob Sevier and Ken Shipley, Sevier asking the question, “Why has there never been a compilation of the Ork label?” It came shortly after Sevier purchased a copy of Television’s “Little Johnny Jewel” single in September of 2012 (noting that it bore a slight resemblance to the first Grateful Dead single, on the mysterious Scorpio label, and considering that there was some significance to this, a significance that remains unseen). Like so many releases before, a compilation begins with a single single and a single question and quickly spirals into a life-consuming endeavor.


greatful dead002 copy

The information was all publicly known: here was incontrovertibly the world’s first punk label, issuing the first Television and first Richard Hell & the Voidoids singles (for starters). And while several of the various recordings had been issued in some form or another elsewhere, there was so little information available about this unquestionably important enterprise. Certainly there was some explanation, and man, did we soon discover why all of this information was buried so deep. For starters—label founder Terry Ork was—before, during, and after running his seminal imprint—far more interested in film than in any music anyone was making. His visionary repertoire notwithstanding, his interest in music might have had more to do with his enthusiasm for young men than true audiophilia. Second, several of the artists made it big, their Ork days barely a footnote in a much larger story. Third, conversely, many of the artists disappeared immediately following their Ork project, in some instances their Ork recordings never seeing the light of day, thereby escaping the attention of contemporary A&R time travellers. The main reason that the Ork label was never compiled was that it was incredibly and often heartbreakingly difficult. It was our most difficult project ever assembled; it involved the aligning of so many personalities and priorities and perspectives but was, in the end, completely worth it and utterly satisfying. In many respects it might be our magnum opus: a herculean effort, a document of undeniable importance, fleshed out in unprecedented detail. At times the journey felt Ahabian, but we’re at the end of it now, our knuckles white against the harpoon as we barrel into the final month. In the coming weeks we’ll introduce the many characters who make up the Ork story and share many of the personal stories and behind-the-scenes conversations that don’t make the liner notes. Stay tuned…

6 Comments so far
Leave a comment

what is the difference between the upcoming release and the RSD 45-box, apart from format?

Comment by Franco

CD and 4LP version has 12 additional tracks and 120 page hard cover book.

Comment by numerogroup

cool – thanks!

Comment by Franco

Will any shops be receiving the Feelies 45 also?

Comment by Paul

Feelies single is a Numero website exclusive.

Comment by numerogroup

I remember the local college station playing the Television single back in the day, loving it and also thinking, “What kind of a name is ‘Ork?'” when the announcer announced the title and label of the disc (I hadn’t yet read Tolkein).

Anyway, there was a 12-inch, 45 RPM vinyl of an extended studio version of ‘Little Johnny Jewel’ on Ork/Warner Bros which came out back around 1980 or so. There was a live version of the track on the B-side. Have you any plans to reissue this little gem?

Comment by Doctor B.

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