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

Good Morning Numerica
May 12, 2011, 3:56 pm
Filed under: Press Archives, Uncategorized, Willie Wright | Tags:

Follow this link for perhaps the most inexplicable use of a song that Numero has released (sorry we couldn’t embed the video for ease, it wouldn’t allow us to):

Good Morning America “Song of the Week”
With no explanation, “I’m So Happy Now” by Willie Wright is set to footage of whatever random clips some producer found on youtube. It’s a bit disorienting, but strangely compelling. For Willie Wright, it is exactly the type of mainstream nod that his easygoing sound deserves. As out of place as it seems for this forgotten folk-soul to be included on hokey mainstream fare like Good Morning America, an alternate history can easily be imagined in which Willie’s music sits next to other “grown-up” [his words] singer-songwriter music, buried deep in the national consciousness like Paul Simon or Bob Dylan. If you haven’t heard Willie Wright, start with some soundclips here.

The Riverfront Times on Willie Wright
March 23, 2011, 3:05 pm
Filed under: Willie Wright | Tags:

“I can feel I’m losing it slowly, but I’m trying to hang on,” he says. “That’s why we’re planning this session. That will be the last session I do. I’m not complaining. I’m just trying to speak the truth.”—Willie Wright

Read the whole article here.

Needle dropping Willie Wright
January 10, 2011, 8:42 am
Filed under: Willie Wright

Sure, you could easily listen to the 30 second sound samples embedded on our site. The more industrious have grabbed a torrent or Rapidshare link. But for those of you looking for a curated glimpse at Willie Wright’s Telling The Truth (out 1/25/11), our very own Michael Slaboch has generated this handy needle drop:

LPs should be arriving today, and CDs are already shipping. Best $15 or $20 you’ll spend this month.

Meet Willie Wright
January 4, 2011, 11:06 am
Filed under: Willie Wright | Tags: , ,

Three weeks from today (or now if you’re into this whole e-tailing thing), Willie Wright’s Telling The Truth will be available for the first time since disappearing into Nantucket record collections thirty years ago. Recorded in New York with Skull Snaps drummer George “Buzzy” Bragg and the Jimmy Castor Bunch’s guitarist Harry Jensen, Wright’s sophomore album is soulful folk album from the same mold as Terry Callier’s What Color Is Love, Richie Haven’ Alarm Clock, or Jerry Moore’s Life Is A Constant Journey Home. Tender and brooding, but with boat shoes and paisley.

A life long traveler (he named his record company Hotel, after all), by the time Wright landed in Nantucket in 1976 his notebook was filled with stories of  family, the streets of New York, Boston night life, and perhaps especially, women. Pictured above with Willie is his one-time muse Susan Hayes, who, though never mentioned by name on the album like the Jackie of “Jackie’s Song,” played a prominent role in Wright’s development as an artist.

Our deluxe reissue of Telling The Truth keeps the original 10 track album in sequence, adding Wright’s lone 45 (a cover of Curtis’ “Right On For The Darkness” backed with his original “Africa”) and adds the title track from his debut Lack Of Education. For the CD version we’ve crafted a unique 4.72″ version of his 45 that actually plays, stuck the disc in a digipack replica of the original album, and tossed in an over-sized 20 page booklet detailing the life and times of Willie Wright. The LP features those same notes, a 7″ version of “Right On For The Darkness” b/w “Africa,” and a scale replica of Telling The Truth, all housed in tip on sleeve with gold foil embossing. This shit’s a thing of beauty.

Three weeks or now. Your choice.

2011 Numero Subscription
December 21, 2010, 1:22 pm
Filed under: Boddie, Ebirac, Newsworthy, Subscription, Willie Wright | Tags:

After an 11th hour A&R meeting that lasted a whopping 163 minutes, your Numero Group has emerged more ready than ever to announce the contents of our 2011 CD and LP subscription. Though most of you are still living out the dregs of 2010, we’ve been facing up to and plotting for 2011 ever since we sent the Syl Johnson: Complete Mythology box set to press in mid-June. For those of you wondering where your final 2010 items are, we’ll explain it all in the coming paragraphs (Just know, for the moment, that you’ll have them shortly).

Numero’s 2010 was all about quality over quantity (adding only three records to our main line during the calendar year). For 2011, we’re shifting philosophies, to bring you a quantity of quality, delivering a multitude of small, focused projects, all of an extremely high grade. We’ve got so many LPs lining up for ’11 completion that we’ve had to break the vinyl subscription into two parts. And, with CD orders continuing to slack off on the front stoop and smoke cigarettes, we’re retooling most of our CD subscriber packages to include bonus content unavailable with the retail CD editions. Finally, we’re adding a few items that’ll be ownable via subscription only, upping the ante considerably from last year. Oh, and we’re gonna charge you less, too.

2011 Vinyl Subscription Part 1: $100

038 Willie Wright: Telling The Truth LP+45

011 Eccentric Soul: Mighty Mike Lenaburg 2LP

ESBOX002 Soundsmasters 3×45

036 Cult Cargo: Salsa De Boricua Chicago 2LP

037.5 Fathers Children LP

In addition to the 6 LPs and 4 singles listed above, you’ll get any bonus materials we make (discs, autographed ephemera, etc.), a die-cast pin, and an exclusive 7″ from the Numero vault. As this entire subscription will be filled by June, we’ll be offering a booster pack for a reduced price.

2011 CD Subscription: $100

037.5 Fathers Children CD

037 Eccentric Soul: RJW 2CD

039 Eccentric Soul: Nickel & Penny Labels CD

035 Boddie Recording Company: Cleveland, Ohio 3CD

In addition to 7 CDs listed above, you’ll also get any bonus materials we make (discs, autographed ephemera, etc), a die-cast pin, and an exclusive 7″ from our vault.

2010 CD subscribers, if you’re looking for your copies of Willie Wright and Salsa De Boricua Chicago, don’t fret! They’re being manufactured now and will ship right around the first of the year.

About that die-cast pin:

Welcome to the Winter Olympics of Numero tchotchkes. In addition to being Numero logo-shaped, the color of pin you get reflects your years as a subscriber. If you’ve been with us since the beginning, get ready to affix a gold pin to your lapel. For those who’ve only been with us for 2-4 years or 1 year look out for silver and bronze (respectively). Wear this pin to get a 15% discount at any Numero event or table where we sell our wares.

Here a sip of next year’s juice if you’re not already convinced:

Look what the letter carrier dragged in:
December 13, 2010, 4:18 pm
Filed under: Willie Wright

LP jacket samples for our forthcoming album: Willie Wright: Telling The Truth. We’ll have details after all the deals die down next week. Stay tuned.

This came in the post today…
September 23, 2010, 2:12 pm
Filed under: Newsworthy, Willie Wright | Tags:

Coming to a Willie Wright: Telling the Truth CD near you in 2011 is this 4.72″ mini-replica of Wright’s lone 45. LP buyers, you’ll get a full-sized 7″ version