Numero Group: By The Numbers

Numero’s guide to Record Store Day 2013 (Part 4)
April 18, 2013, 11:50 am
Filed under: 24-Carat Black, Record Store Day

24c-acetateWhen we first got the tapes for what would become NUM025 24-Carat Black: Gone: The Promises of Yesterday LP/CD, we thought we had a lot more material from which to compile from. From the four tapes that we transferred, only six usable tracks managed to make it off the reel. The rest were in such bad shape that we got one pass at capturing what was left. And even then, there were only four songs that were audible. But what great songs they are! Listen:


Hear that crackle? That’s the tape falling apart as we ran it. Live degradation! Even though they’re just shade past inaudible, we’ve always carried a soft spot in our hearts for these orphaned songs. So much so that when it came time to put a piece together for our RSD pop up store, our thoughts immediately returned to these annihilated masterpieces. But how to package the barely listenable? In our travels over the last decade we’ve come across our fair share of scorched acetates. Flaking, cracking, bubbling… most get a play at most before needing to be tossed in the dumpster. And yet there is beauty in that decay. To give you a little sense of the hope served over a bed of disappointment we often feel, we’ve recreated that look as a 10″ picture disc. Yes, picture disc. The worst sounding vinyl format.

We’ve pressed 549 of these things, opting to package them in a kraft sleeve with the traditional “Broadcast Records Fragile” imprint found on so many acetates—as opposed to a tough clear plastic sleeve. The kicker? You can only buy them at our pop up store this Saturday, limit one per customer. If you want this, you need to find a way to get to Chicago or bribe a friend of yours to line up and get one for you.

Can’t get to Chicago? This is the next pic disc hitting the market (Pass on the Dio and Bon Jovi if you know what’s good for you):


Pissing off people since 2011: The return of the Numero #RSD pop-up store
March 19, 2013, 9:55 am
Filed under: 24-Carat Black, Newsworthy, Record Store Day, Unwound

For the third year in a row, the Numero Group will “pop up” on Record Store Day as a retail store. Much vitriol and hate has been spewed at us in the past for our circumvention of “the rules,” and since we’re gluttons for punishment (but really because we’re slaves to our fans) we’re loading up our cars and renting tables in hopes of breaking last year’s record of 1062 entrants.

While last year’s bonanza found us occupying the Empty Bottle’s 3000 square feet, we’ve opted for a smaller and more low key space this year. Meet the Comfort Station:


Located triangularly at the intersections of Kedzie/Milwaukee/Logan Blvd, this turn of the century park district way station has been hosting left field artists for the last half decade. We’ve been drawn to the building for years, marveling at its odd size and multiple points of entry on our way to $3 movies at the Logan Theater. Last year’s event was a massive success, but also a massive headache. We’re hoping this cozier space leads to a more enjoyable experience for both Numero and our customers. We’ll have every Numero record that is currently in print, plus the following “exclusive” Record Store Day items:

 NUM704 Hüsker Dü: Amusement 2×7″ 

NUM202.1 Giant Henry: Big Baby LP

NUM201.5 Codeine: What About The Lonely? CD/LP

Additionally, we’ll be manufacturing several items you can only buy at Comfort Station that day:

NUM025.5 24-Carat Black: Acetate picture disc 10″ 

This “acetate” features four songs from our 24-Carat Black tape archive that were scorched beyond use on 2009’s Gone: The Promises of Yesterday LP/CD. But given the quality of the songs, we’ve always felt that the material should be available for the sake of posterity alone. Now, in an edition of 500 copies, you too can experience the sorrow we felt as the source tape disintegrated in front of our eyes. All the drop-outs, hiss, warble, and degradation can be yours by attending our pop-up store on April 20th 2013. It looks like this:

Acetate(aw)We’re also making a series of mix tapes by the working staff of the Numero Group. Ken, Tom, Rob, Zach, Jon, Nate, Dustin, Leland, Michael, and Haley have created 40-minute, themed mixes of their favorite released and unreleased Numero songs. Each tape is limited to 20 copies and will be sold for $5. All proceeds go to the Numero RSD lunch fund.

In addition to our own junk, we’ll have a handful of tables filled with rare, weird, and cheap LPs, 45s, tapes. For the third year in a row, we are not recommending that you only attend our store on Record Store Day. You should definitely visit Reckless (3 locations), Dusty Groove, Permanent, Laurie’s Planet of Sound, Dave’s, Jazz Record Mart, and Saki, which will have all of our non-pop up store RSD goods.

So, where are you going to start queuing up at 7AM on April 20th 2013?

The Numero Store

2579 N. Milwaukee Ave. Chicago, IL 60647

April 20th 2013



24 Carat Black – Class of ’74
May 11, 2012, 10:39 am
Filed under: 24-Carat Black

When 24 Carat Black’s first album debuted in 1973, the band had splintered into two separate groups. Originally formed wholesale from Cincinnati’s Ditalians, the majority of the young group had become disillusioned with their patriarchal leader Dale Warren and returned home, picking up their own fanbase but keeping the name to capitalize on the recent Stax release. The few folks that stuck around became the core of a new band, made out of Chicago musicians connected through a loose network. Although this band toured for at least a year together, their was never a formal publicity shot captured of this second incarnation of 24 Carat Black. Unearthed after almost 40 years is the only photo ever seen in modern times of the 24 Carat Black group responsible for Gone The Promises of Yesterday. We need to thank legendary disc jockey Al Luv AKA Al Jenkins for sharing it with us (note that it’s personalized to him).

24 Carat Black Revisited
June 4, 2010, 10:17 am
Filed under: 24-Carat Black | Tags: , ,

After hounding Bruce Thompson and the rest of the members of 24 Carat Black that were included on our LP release Gone: The Promises of Yesterday for months and frustrating months, we finally printed jackets with some great archival images, but perhaps not as much as we would have loved to have had. Now a few bits and pieces have come to light, falling out of the trees long after we shook the branches.We’ll share a few here over time, but save the rest in the hopes that some new material comes to light and we can expand on our original release!

Home taping is reinventing music
May 25, 2010, 12:50 pm
Filed under: 24-Carat Black | Tags: ,

After nearly five months out of commission, our trusty tape machine lives again. The first tape? A stack of masters brought over by 24-Carat Black’s Bruce Thompson. Don’t get too excited, none of these are 24CB, no third album is forthcoming. Rather, his buddy Harold Harris found a stack of dusty tapes from his nights spent jazzing at the Playboy Club. When we saw “What’s Going On” scribbled in ballpoint on the box, we knew it had to be listened to. And because this was the inaugural tape, Tom Lunt set his iPhone to “record” and came up with this little joint:

Toe Jammin’
May 19, 2010, 11:44 am
Filed under: 24-Carat Black

One project has a habit of leading to another… Twinight led to Final Solution, Deep City led to Outskirts of Deep City, Ladies From The Canyon led to Caroline Peyton… and so on. Many of the Numero people are sitting on a bunch of weird and cool recordings, and any time we have the opportunity, we get into the exegesis of our artists. Today, Bruce from 24 Carat Black came by and brought some reggae recordings (among other things) from the early 1980s. We said “Bruce, how can you make reggae? Did you fake a patois” and he showed us. We couldn’t find a take-up reel to transfer the actual tapes, so here’s Bruce’s re-enactment of what we’re gonna find on these newly unearthed tapes:

Woo Hoo! We’re Number 1,620!
January 20, 2010, 2:16 am
Filed under: 24-Carat Black, Downriver Revival, Lonesome Heroes, Pisces | Tags:

The venerable Village Voice Pazz & Jop poll has deemed Numero’s Wayfaring Strangers: Lonesome Heroes to be the one-thousand-six-hundred and twentieth best record of 2009, above # 1641,Various Artists, Purplish Rain (Prince Tribute Record), Spin Magazine Download, # 1731, Shpongle, Ineffable Mysteries From Shpongleland and # 1864, DJ Plastician, Cashmere Agency Presents Mr. Grustle & Tha Russian’s Dubstep LA: Embrace the Renaissance Vol. 1 Mixed by Plastician. Awesome!

The one to beat, though, was # 1160, Warren Zevon, A Playlist I Made of Warren Zevon Songs. Damn. Maybe next year.

Critics of America, keep up the good work!

Addendum: Probably because I was reading the list on my phone last night, I forgot to note:

# 946 Various Artists, Downriver Revival

# 1029 Pisces, Pisces:A Lovely Sight


# 1113 24 Carat Black, Gone: The Promises of Yesterday

Looks like we kicked that Zevon playlist’s ass!

So, thanks, Hobey Echlin, Brett Koshkin, Andrew Scott Earles and Chairman Jefferson Mao.

We have always depended on the kindness of strangers.

Let’s strive for the low 800’s next year!

Intelligentsia & The Numero Group Present: 24-Carat Blend


Our friends at Intelligentsia have created a brand new blend of Brazilian and Guatemalan coffee beans inspired by 24-Carat Black’s album, Gone: The Promises Of Yesterday.

This syrupy sweet espresso is the perfect blend of South Side talents.  Supreme dynamics and a soulful sweetness make each sip an instant classic.

Come on down to the Chicago Cultural Center Sunday November 1st to try the freshly roasted special blend and some homemade cupcakes at our book/2LP release party for, Light: On The South Side taking place from 2-6pm.


New in the Numero warehouse
August 13, 2009, 11:56 am
Filed under: 24-Carat Black, Lonesome Heroes | Tags: , ,

2009 has been, without a doubt, our busiest in the six years since we threw open our bank accounts. Beginning in January with Caroline Peyton’s Mock Up and Intuition, we’ve been on a tear, issuing Niela Miller’s Songs Of Leaving, Local Customs: Downriver Revival, This LP Crashes Hard Drives, Eccentric Soul: Smart’s Palace, Pisces: A Lovely Sight (LP+45 version is nearly sold out, FYI), and 24-Carat Black: Gone The Promises Of Yesterday. And it’s only August.

That said, the two latest additions to our ever shrinking warehouse have arrived safely and gorgeously:

Lonesome and 24

The larger item is the LP version of 24-Carat Black, with its Smell The Glove inspired all-black jacket, black on black text, and embossed silhouette of the group. It’s probably the nicest single LP we’ve ever made, and is ready to be ordered now. The smaller item is the CD version of Wayfaring Strangers: Lonesome Heroes. Built in the same manner as Guitar Soli, the all-matte affair includes a 40-page booklet rich with the kind of banal factoids you’ve come to expect in a Numero dig. It won’t be released for another two weeks, but you can procure a copy for yourself now. Vinyl fetishists fear not! The LPs will be monopolizing valuable space  shortly.

Chicago Reader strikes (us) again
July 11, 2009, 8:15 am
Filed under: 24-Carat Black

Nice piece in Miles Raymer’s Sharp Darts column this weekend on 24-Carat Black:

Composer and arranger Dale Warren moved his visionary soul outfit 24-Carat Black to a few different cities during its life span, and toward the end it called Chicago home—though at that point its lineup was slightly different from the one that had produced the band’s only release, a 1973 concept album called Ghetto: Misfortune’s Wealth, which flopped in its own time but has since become a favorite of rare-groove freaks and hip-hop producers.

Warren’s pop career had already peaked, though his groundbreaking arrangements for Isaac Hayes’s Hot Buttered Soul were only a couple years behind him, and by the time he took the Chicago incarnation of 24-Carat Black into the studio in late ’74, the group’s label, Stax, was in financial free fall. Warren and his crew tracked an entire album but had only finished a rough mix when Stax folded in ’75. With no more label money coming, the band dissolved. Warren soon abandoned soul for classical music, working as a composer and instrumentalist as well as conducting orchestras in LA and Atlanta.

The reels ended up in the south-side basement of engineer Bruce Thompson, who also played keyboards in 24-Carat Black; the soul archaeologists at the Numero Group turned them up while hunting for a 45 by a band called Chocolate Sunday. Like Numero’s 2008 release of the Brotherman soundtrack, Gone: The Promises of Yesterday is incomplete, though for different reasons: Brotherman was never recorded in its entirety, while Gone suffered from poor storage conditions that degraded the tapes so badly that their magnetized coating flaked off.

Numero could salvage only 6 of the 20 tracks, and even that slice makes it clear that Gone would’ve had considerably more commercial potential than Ghetto. Getting its juice from what the liner notes call “tainted love songs” rather than grim hood sociology, Gone is a much more sensual listen. The baby-making funk of “The Best of Good Love Gone” is anchored by a smoothly popping bass line, elevated by churchy organ and a complex but accessible horn part, and topped by a pleading vocal from Warren’s teenage wife, Princess Hearn. “I’ll Never Let You Go” breaks halfway through for a jazzy ambient interlude that includes a different female singer simulating an orgasm. It’s not just sexy, though—it’s ambitious. The 12-minute-long “I Begin to Weep,” which starts off as sultry soul, ends with a combo of sparse percussion and Robert Dunson’s vocals that could almost pass for avant-garde minimalism.