Numero Group: By The Numbers


Two Fly-By-Night Productions on 45
June 15, 2015, 2:34 pm
Filed under: Eccentric Soul 45s, Omnibus

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The now out-of-print Eccentric Soul: Omnibus contained not one but two releases on Fly-By-Night records, a two-and-through imprint perpetuated by Cleveland’s first Black anchorman, Bill Jacocks. These individual singles were among the more coveted 45s from the set, so we decided to put them back in to circulation as stand-alone catalog items. The fact that the Pat Stallworth track has not been looped into infinity or utilized in a laundry detergent/yogurt/diet soda commercial is simply unbelievable.

By 1974, Jacocks had been nominated for Emmys and Peabodys, but the desire to create music persisted, occasionally intermingling with his journalistic work. While producing a documentary about the racial issues that affect Northern Ohio, Jacocks enlisted the neighborly garage group, Stone Creations to help track the score. “Hands On A Golden Key” was the titular theme to Jacock’s documentary, which ran exactly once on WEWS-TV in 1973. Shortly thereafter, Jacocks approached Pat Stallworth following a theatrical production at the Karamu House about cutting a record. For Stallworth’s backing band, Jacocks hired the underground sensations, Mother Braintree (pre-Bell Telefunk, pre-Kinsman Dazz, pre-Dazz Band). Fans of Lou Ragland’s Conveyor will recognize and appreciate about 85% of the musical cast (and vibe). As Jacocks himself stated in the Omnibus liner notes: “We made it, in our purview, a silky funk masterpiece.”

Click here to purchase Pat Stallworth’s “Questions Pt. 1” b/w “Questions Pt. 2”

Click here to purchase Stone Creations’ “The ‘IT’ Song” b/w “Hands On A Golden Key” 



BullCitySoul.Org Celebrates NC Music History
September 5, 2014, 11:32 am
Filed under: Omnibus

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Out of the 45 curious singles that populate our Eccentric Soul Omnibus, many bloggers, journalists, and podcasters were drawn to the Ultimate Break and instrumental workout produced by Durham, North Carolina’s Duracha.

At the time of the Omnibus’s construction, retired chemist, eBay grinder, Tarheel, and soul historian Jason Perlmutter was hard at work on an exhibition of artifacts from Durham’s music scene and was able to send us high resolution impressions of Duracha with the quickness. Finally, that exhibit can be seen by all at BullCitySoul.org.

Click here to visit the Durham of yesteryear at BullCitySoul.org.

Click here to purchase one of a dozen remaining Omnibus box sets. 

Editor’s Note: Los Angeles rap group People Under The Stairs were among the first to go on record about Duracha, mentioning the Microtronics label by name in a 2002 rap song about record shopping (around 1:09). Those drums, also Duracha.

 



“What about featuring Inbassador on Facebook?”
November 7, 2013, 12:35 pm
Filed under: Omnibus

In the comments section of the blog today, we got a somewhat off topic request:

“What about featuring Inbassador on Facebook?”

This request came from Robert Benson, bassist of the intentionally misspelled Delaware group who we profiled in our Omnibus Box Set. Although we eventually found a more suitable group photo, Inbassador’s first submission was this creation—scanned, ink-jetted, modified with scissors and scotch tape, scanned, printed, signed, sealed, and delivered.

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While we loved this promotional collage, it wasn’t quite right for the hardbound volume that accompanied the Omnibus. However, it’s about perfect for a Facebook feature. So Robert Benson, today is your lucky day! We love your record, and we’re glad you reached out. How are things in Delaware?

There are a few physical manifestations of the Omnibus left, which includes Inbassador’s “Everyday” and “Everybody’s Doing It.”



The Numero Group Supports Charles Bradley @ Lincoln Hall
December 28, 2012, 12:27 pm
Filed under: Omnibus | Tags:

Charles BRadleyOur friends at Daptone are bringing the incomparable Charles Bradley (fresh off tour with Sharon Jones! Catch him before his blockbuster run in Australia!) to Chicago for a two-night stand on December 30th and 31st (the latter being, of course, New Year’s Eve.) It is a rare occasion when Numero Group helmsmen Ken Shipley and Rob Sevier get out of the trenches to play selections from their record collection, but Charles Bradley’s monster live show is well worth the effort. Hear all the 45s cut from the Eccentric Soul: Omnibus because the artists or producers couldn’t be found!

 



Numero: The Year In Review

While the rest of the world polls minor celebrities and hipster-douchebag record label owners, we quietly sent out an email last week to our staff asking them to rank their top ten Numero releases for 2012. The surprising results are as follows:

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10. Circuit Rider: S/T

Close your eyes and Imagine The Doors backing The Prophet Omega. Now open them upon a picture of Thorn Oehrig, the mind and voice behind Circuit Rider. The first thing that may pop to mind is “student council president.” He’s white, well-groomed and lacks the requisite thousand yard stare of a paranoid outlaw on the lam. And yet the music contained here is so defiled that you can imagine that if he did hold the power seat in high school, it brought forth his inner cult leader, biker gang honcho, and 19th Century sharecropper. Power driven by powerlessness; John Brown. Oerig’s vision is like civil war re-enactment applied to the sixties underground, sounding more like a field recording from the remnants of an Appalachian slave clan moved to the cheap side of Laurel Canyon than a perilously corralled Paul Rothchild production of drunken film students holed up in Morrison Hotel. Thoughout it all, it’s obvious that the guy isn’t kidding. He has been transformed. Beware. It’s contagious.—Tom Lunt

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09. Shirley Ann Lee: Songs Of Light

Back in the spring of 2006, Ken Shipley, Rob Sevier and I holed up in a downtown Chicago studio and transferred a myriad of tapes from Ecorse, Michigan’s Revival Records label. At the time it was the biggest excavation that Numero had ever encountered. After listening to over 150 tapes and thousands of songs that year, we produced a remarkable compilation and created a new series with Local Customs: Downriver Revival.  By far the star of this release was Shirley Ann Lee, the gospel singer from Toledo, Ohio.  There were more tapes in the Revival cache of Shirley Ann Lee than any other artist that Felton Williams recorded at his home studio…and for good reason. Her voice is like none other that I have ever heard before. At times she sounds like a constant contradiction: raw and poetic, bitter and sweet, sinful and sacred.  After years of listening to hundreds of tracks by her, we were proud to present Shirley Ann Lee: Songs of Light in 2012 (the 3rd album in our Numerophon series).  It is comprised of 16 exceptional tracks that are both experimental, evocative, and forthright in their own special ways.—Michael Slaboch

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08. Buttons: From Champaign To Chicago

Part A: On Facebook, re: Julian Leal’s “Get Away,” my brother Neal wrote: “Our mission is to make everybody like this song, if it’s the last thing we do.”

Part B: “Get Away” isn’t even my go-to track on this. It’s still Tom Orsi’s “Where Are You Now,” as power pop as that may not be.

Part C: Pro Packaging Personalization: Take your 2LP gatefold and put it in a plastic LP sleeve. Then select your favorite of the Buttons 7×7 artist promo slicks and put it in the front within the smaller plastic sleeve they all came in (I’m currently using The Names, for example). Next, position your slicks sleeve at bottom left, inside your Buttons LP sleeve, so that it decorates a corner of the Buttons front cover, partially obscuring Ken’s shirt-and-vest getup (but not the yellow Illinois lapel button) and allowing you, the obsessed owner, to tell the world which Buttons track is currently owning every synapse of your power pop neural network. —Judson Picco

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07. Codeine: When I See The Sun

When the idea of taking a run at the ’90s first came up, the Numero office found itself at something of an ideological crossroads. Discussions about “catalog purity” gave way to arguments about our label’s scope, mission, and vision. Terms like “post-songwriting” were thrown out and thoughts of yet another label were pondered. Eventually we realized Numero was more like software, something that could be applied to anything with positive results. We’ve made DVDs, covered salsa, and soon will make our first foray into hard rock. If we couldn’t handle a sleepy early-’90s group from Manhattan, how could we expect to ever really chase our personal muses?

I’ll be the first to admit that Codeine was a passion project for me. I’d loved the band since high school, sneaking out to see them in Petaluma, California, on their last tour. Their three record arc remains a shining example of what happens when a band quits while they’re ahead. The idea of reissuing their smallish catalog came to me upon discovering that our one-time sales maven JR Robinson had made a record with former Codeine drummer Chris Brokaw. A few months later, Chris was sitting in my office. A few weeks later I was on the phone with Jon and Stephen. Then Sub Pop. A personal journey was completed in a matter of weeks, as I went from fan to piece of a complex puzzle. I was no longer just a proud owner of a Loser t-shirt, I was in the process of turning the Sub Pop logo on its head.

The unique packaging concept began with a question from Rob Sevier: Why can’t bonus CDs slide out of a little pocket in the same fashion an LP does? Henry Owings took that question, and, with the help of Jeff Kleinsmith’s original art, reinvented Codeine’s classic trilogy of records for a new generation. Judson Picco and myself spent weeks drafting and redrafting the liner notes, pulling on every thread until we were satisfied we’d told all the story there was to tell. Jeff Lipton grabbed victory from the jaws of DAT failure, rescuing a great many crunchy tracks over the process of remastering the 6LP/3CD set. The result feels like a Numero record, but has a distinct out of house flavor. Not quite a “Group” effort, but a Herculean one nonetheless.—Ken Shipley

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06. Love Apple: S/T

Love Apple may be this year’s best kept secret. A single LP in Kraft paper jacket this dinghy is easily lost behind the armada of flagship releases this year.  Don’t let its modesty fool you, the Ragland produced, Boddie recorded sketches of three Cleveland sisters over a lone guitar and drums has seen heavy play in our headquarters this year.  With unique melodies that sway from elegant to eerie and sparse instrumentation this is the record MPC junkies dream of. Seriously, how has this not been sampled yet?—Nate Meiners

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05. Eccentric Soul: A Red Black Green Production

In 2011, the world caught just a glimpse of D.C.’s  Robert “Jose” Williams and his studio wizardry when we released Father’s Children: Who’s Gonna Save The World. That album represented but a few tapes amongst a treasure trove of D.C. soul, including released and unreleased works by the Summits,  Skip Mahoaney & The Casuals, Promise, Dyson’s Faces, and the Exceptions. Dithering down the 30-odd tapes was no easy task, as originally this was slated to be a a four, possibly five, CD set with full albums by Dyson’s Faces, the Exceptions, Skip Mahoaney, and Father’s Children, with another disc of extras (including this femme falsetto gem). This unprecedented access to the source material gives RBG (as it’s lovingly referred to around the office) a polish and sheen not found on many other Eccentric Soul compilations. If you’re a sucker for low rider ballads, we encourage you to put your rub-off tear drop tattoo on, roll down the windows, and cruise.—Zach Myers

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04. Lou Ragland: I Travel Alone

As Numero’s web specialist, I see lots of things float by our digital domain. I’m privileged (and sometimes horrified) to hear snippets of works-in-progress where I’m completely unaware of what the work actually is. That’s how I originally came across Lou Ragland. I was listening to a random swath of songs when I noticed several stand-out tracks which seemed to be related, but I wasn’t sure. These songs were tied together semi-stylistically, but what grabbed me was the warmth and depth that pervaded each and every track. When Lou Ragland: I Travel Alone landed on my desk at Numero’s New Jersey office, all was clear. I clearly need to get the fuck out of New Jersey.—Jonathan Land

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03. Alfonso Lovo: La Gigantona

Had La Gigantona surfaced during my college years, it would be fossilized into the bedrock of my musical identity today. Between gravity bong hits of Lee Perry and keg stands of Herbie Hancock, Alfonso Lovo would have provided the perfect crossfade between my intensifying interests in jazz and Caribbean psychedelia.Then I would be able to reminisce with random classmates over the holidays—modern lawyers, bankers, sales reps—and they’d say, “Dude, remember how we used to listen to Alfonso Lovo ALL THE TIME?! We were obsessed with that record! I play it for my wife now and she hates it!”—Jon Kirby

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02. WTNG 89.9: Solid Bronze

For those select fans still holding to the misguided notion that Numero Group is a “soul music” reissue label, 2012 must have been quite sobering.  Sure, there have been multitudes of non-soul or gospel titles on the label over the past ten years…Pisces, Lonestar Lowlands, and our two volumes of power pop via the Buttons series, but nothing could have prepared anyone for what we came up with for Record Store Day. Inspired by radio station compilations released throughout the ’70s and ’80s, the idea was to compile a sampler for our own (quasi fictitious) WTNG station; a literal “who’s that?” of a silky smooth style we lovingly refer to as “easy glide.”  After hundreds of hours of listening to potential inclusions, the eleven tracks that finally made the cut still found themselves on repeat play around the Numero office. This is the sort of record I never knew that I NEEDED in my life until it existed. I need more.—Dustin Drase

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01. Eccentric Soul Omnibus

One box to rule them all. We thought many things about last year’s #1 set, the Boddie Recording Company. We thought we’d never spend longer on a project (wrong, some of this research started even before there was a Numero to release it). We thought we’d never see such a shipping nightmare in person (extraordinarily wrong, note the multiple injuries in the shipping department). And furthermore, we thought that any such project that would top last year’s #1 would surely blow its release date (on that point we were correct.) We present the 045 Eccentric Soul: Omnibus… 45 singles, 90 songs, 45,000 words of liner notes, 96,000 tears, 3 bottles of Adderall,  one nervous breakdown, all packaged lavishly in a handy classic 45 case. Now we’re really wondering how to top ourselves.—Rob Sevier



Numero 45 boxes: Going, going… almost gone
December 13, 2012, 1:03 pm
Filed under: Eccentric Soul 45s, Omnibus

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Pictured above are the 19 variations of our 45 box. Two months ago they took up a tractor trailer’s worth of space in our office, today there’s half a pallet sitting in the front room. Time flies. At the pace we’re ripping through them, we won’t have any left by the end of January. If you want one (or know someone who might), here’s the specs:

Size: 7 1/4″s wide x 7 1/2″s tall x 4″s deep – This is meant to hold Numero 45s and classic ’60s and ’70s singles—not your ’90s indie rock pic sleeves.

Construction: 8gsm board wrapped with vinyl.

Hardware: Metal hinges with plastic handle.

Cost: $40.

Sadly, we’ve run out of every color combo, and as there’s no real way to keep track of what we’ll have left on any given day, you have no choice of color. However, in the comments field of your order you can specify what you’d like and we’ll do our best.

While you’re buying a box, why not pick up a 45 subscription too?



Omnibus: Big Box, Bigger Reviews
December 5, 2012, 9:50 am
Filed under: Eccentric Soul 45s, Numero Press, Omnibus

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Just when we were prepared to take our 45 box and go home, NPR’s Oliver Wang went ahead and unleashed a thousand and a half words on Eccentric Soul: Omnibus. Mea Culpa.

The salient bit is this:

Reissue labels generally fly below the radar: it’s the albums or compilations they put out that are supposed to be the main focus. With Numero though, from very early on, the label itself established its imprimatur via a few distinctive features: a consistent packaging style, meticulous liner notes featuring interviews with original artists and producers and perhaps most importantly, a sense of exclusivity without snobbery, education without pedantry. Numero releases often make you feel like you’re learning something important without overselling that point.

Read the whole mess here.

Not to be outdone, the Onion’s AV Club has a longish Q&A with Numero ringleader Ken Shipley.

Here’s the take home quote:

We have really passionate people over here who look for these great moments of recorded history that have fallen between the cracks. The hope is that if you keep the entire catalog in print, if you keep everything out there and in circulation, songs really can’t be lost. They’re just waiting to be discovered by somebody else. Rian Johnson wasn’t with us in 2005 when we started working on Twinight, but he was there in 2011 when he had this idea for a movie and the song struck him. It’s an important part of the movie for him, and when you touch people like that with music, you’ve done the job that the song was supposed to do in the first place. It just took a lot longer to get there. 

Get lost in a flurry of sound clips and words here.

Finally, last night this little Boston Phoenix gem showed up in our Google Alerts:

A massive cup-runneth-over of 45 45s that gives lavish treatment to 90 sides of criminally ignored funk and soul radness.

All 50 of those words are here. 

Here’s a few more while we have you here:

Numero has achieved a reputation for quality both in content and in presentation andOmnibus certainly lives up it, raising the bar such that I can’t imagine what they have in store for their second collection.—Consequence Of Sound

Numero Group, one of the country’s leading reissue labels, crams 45 45’s and a hardback book into a portable case that’ll appeal to anyone curious about the genre’s golden years.—New York Magazine

Chicago Magazine stuffed it into their gift guide.

But really, that’s kinda it. To the many freelance writers and magazine editors out there who will point to not being serviced with the release we ask, “How many $250 box sets are showing up in your mailbox on a regular basis?”

Hop to kids, we’ve got less than 100 copies in our warehouse.