Numero Group: By The Numbers

Cover Art Cop
July 27, 2012, 3:09 pm
Filed under: Stone Coal White




But was theirs carved from an actual tombstone? Didn’t think so.

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

Needle Drop: Stone Coal White
July 12, 2011, 8:30 am
Filed under: Stone Coal White | Tags: , ,

Jesse Chandler was surrounded by chrome and leather, chains and exhaust on the night of June 13, 2010 when he was shot to death in front of 200 witnesses. Many of the witnesses were members of a notorious biker gang known as the Bad to the Bone Motorcycle Club. Unfortunately for Jesse Chandler, his blood was pooling in the parking lot of their meeting place and underground bar, a dilapidated house at 2400 W. 3rd St. in Dayton, Ohio, where street racing and noise complaints were common. Detectives have received numerous anonymous calls identifying the killer but none of the witnesses are willing to come forward and identify themselves. No arrests were made.

Three months later, the Dayton SWAT team raided the house on complaints of drug and illegal liquor sales. They found the house in a state of disrepair, split into four apartment units with no functioning bathroom, kitchen, or fire alarm between them. The house is now condemned and Bad to the Bone members were ordered to stay away from the property until repairs and further inspections could bring it up to code.

It was also in this house, amidst biker gang ephemera, that the master tapes of long-lost Dayton psychedelic soul band Stone Coal White were discovered by Dante Carfagna in 2004. While Bad to the Bone has existed in Dayton and used the address as their personal clubhouse for decades, it was also the regular hangout of Stone Coal White in 1970s. The connection is this: The house was once owned by Melvin Payne, a Bad to the Bone member who also happened to play bass in Stone Coal White.

The band was one of the true underground acts of the well-stocked Dayton soul scene. While the Ohio Players were off in Akron and Detroit making their name and records, Stone Coal White was in Dayton playing for the people at clubs like the Astro House on Salem Avenue and the Twenty Grand on Germantown Pike. While It’s unclear if any of the other members of the band were also in the gang besides Payne, Stone Coal White’s full lineup included Joe Rodrick (a.k.a. Joey Lobo) on drums, and Tommy Mundy on guitar, with a rotating cast of vocalists including Dennis Mundy, King Solomon Prather, Robert “Dapp” Brown, and a mysterious person known as Cookieman, whose real name may have been David Jones. Together, they were operating in the genre-bounding territory that briefly opened in the wake of Jimi Hendrix and Funkadelic, cross-fertilizing white rock with black funk and soul. You can hear the rev of the engine in their music, the creak of leather and the clank of chains.

Known for exhaustive, psychedelic shows with a very risque element, the band was forcing them to add “Rated X” to their name at various points. Payne told me a story of Joey Lobo doing a drum solo with dildos as drumsticks. Eventually, they merged with a local vocal group called Act 5 to complete their show band package and become “Act 5 & Stone Coal White.” Formerly an a cappella group, Act 5 was led by brothers Holland and Larry Makeupson. Unfortunately, both bands together were ahead of their time, and their time was not kind.

After the demise of Stone Coal White, Tommy Mundy retired from music, only playing guitar intermittently at church. Joey Lobo played with Sun, jazz organist Charlie Earland, the rock group ROME (formerly known as the Cigarettes), Ahmad Jamal, and comedian Dave Chappelle. In addition, he started his own group in Phoenix, Arizona which were voted “Best Of Phoenix 1984” by New Times Magazine. Rumors place his last known whereabouts in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Act 5 still performs a cappella in church.

Melvin Payne continued to play both bass and drums for many small-time local acts, most notably the Strictly Business Showband in the mid-to-late 80s (though it is unknown if he is on their 45 from 1988). Over the years, the house decayed and the tapes grew dusty, forgotten to all but the most dedicated funk collectors. When Josh Davis and Dante Carfagna arrived on the scene in 2005 they were hoping to get a couple copies of the record, but sensing the decaying infrastructure they took it one step further and licensed the band’s entire oeuvre, nabbing a safety copy of the group’s eight known songs at the same time.

Today, via Josh’s quiet Cali-Tex imprint, we’re proud to present Stone Coal White to the world on LP, CD, and MP3. Find it in finer record emporiums or buy it on our website. Not convinced? Listen to this five minute sampling of the entire album:


Stone Coal White: Six Years On
May 20, 2011, 7:23 pm
Filed under: Stone Coal White, Uncategorized | Tags: , ,

In 2005, Dante Carfagna and Josh Davis rolled up on the home of Melvin Payne to discuss his Dayton, Ohio, scuzz-funk outfit Stone Coal White. Six years later, the fruits of that drop-in are finally being realized by the upcoming Cali-Tex album that compiles the entirety of the band’s work. Davis brought a camera with him that day and snapped a few shots, and since none of them will end up in the Numero-distributed album, we thought it might be nice to share this tiny slice of master digging.

Carfagna winces at 45s stored sleeveless in a shopping bag.

Bad To The Bone/Road Runners M.C. Memorial Ride. Who the fuck is Klas Act?

Two copies of the way-scarce Ewing 45, conveniently resting next to a hot iron, natch.

As if he needed to prove how hard the band was… Payne flosses his BTTBMC jacket.

Payne uses his middle finger to point himself out.

Payne would check out a few years later, his group’s phenomenal work just another mile marker. Let the forthcoming LP be a testament not only to Dayton’s most over-the-top sex-show-cum-wild-party-funk band, but also to a dude who kept his shit real.