For this month’s NTS broadcast, we broke out the boom box and unleashed a whole shoebox of cassette obscurities from our personal collections. Reasoning that cassettes—more than any other singular format—embody a particular aesthetic, we’ve included a gallery of covers to help contextualize the material featured in this set. Rap and new age both experienced booms in the ’80s and therefore represent a large share of the program. However, the cassette allowed weirdos of all persuasions and abilities to circulate their output affordably (see above). Here’s a few favorites:
Split Image – S/T (1990) ℅ Technical Difficulty Productions, Houston, TX
Semply Fressh Posse – The Adventures of the… (1994) Jah International, Jamestown, NC
V/A – Mountain Valley Music (1990) John C. Campbell Folk School, Brasstown, NC
Sounds Of Papa New Guinea (unknown) Swinging Axe Productions, Northridge, CA
Stephan Micus – Ocean (1986) Self-Released, Ludwigsburg, Germany
Spring – Funkin’ With The Rhythm and Blues (1995) Sounds of Spring Music, Clemmons, NC
Hill Tribe Music (1992) Disco Cassette Chiangmai, Thailand
Honey Dipp – Honey Dipp Style (1995) Kam-Rod Records, Fayetteville, NC
Filed under: Sitting In The Park
(Bob Abrahamian with his grandfather)
Eccentric Soul: Sitting in the Park hits the streets today, almost exactly two years since the untimely death of Sitting in the Park host, Bob Abrahamian. In the wake of Bob’s death, so many tributes were held—both locally and internationally—that it’s shocking to consider he wasn’t a conventional celebrity. He did not host a nationally syndicated radio show, nor did he travel far and wide to play selections from his enviable 45 collection. His homegrown passion simply energized a network of soul collectors found across the globe, and his sudden passing sent ripples well beyond this community. Even Questlove took notice:
We wanted to do something significant as a celebration and tribute to Bob’s work and we feel Sitting in the Park achieves that. Initially, we set out to continue the work we had embarked on together, and in doing so, I think we have created a collection of music that Bob would have loved—a compilation essential to even the most particular soul savant. We are unbelievably saddened that Bob isn’t with us to see the culmination of all his efforts, but it’s inspiring to have a hand in keeping his memory alive. Proceeds from every CD, LP, and download go to Bob’s sister, who is maintaining his significant archives. We hope you enjoy.
Filed under: Sitting In The Park
(Bob Abrahamian, far right, in the WHPK studios, mid-’90s)
Eccentric Soul: Sitting In The Park was conceived of as a tribute to our friend and colleague Bob Abrahamian, his weekly radio show “Sitting In The Park” (WHPK), and the Chicago artists he championed. Meticulously researched and tirelessly compiled, “Sitting In The Park” brought Bob face to face with the sweet soul artists whose far-flung recordings had quickly grown from hobby to obsession. So where better to celebrate Bob’s time on terrestrial airwaves than aboard the universal college radio station of the future, NTS? This special broadcast includes a conversation between co-host Rob Sevier and Otis Brown, whose “Southside Chicago” became an anthem and theme song for Bob’s long-running radio show. Bob was never able to sit down with the Brown, so we engaged the Memphis transplant in a fashion consistent with Bob’s thorough interview style (“Sitting In The Park” episodes are archived at the website of the same name).
“The Scientists proved to me that rock ‘n’ roll could be played by gentlemen in fine silk shirts half unbuttoned and still be dirty, cool and real.”
“They wrote fantastic singles and looked like they just crawled out of the ooze. What more could you ask for?”
“The Scientists turned my head around and made a man out of me! They grew hair on my palms and made my socks stink!”
With a sound that was swampy, primal and modern-urban all at once—as much in the tradition of rock n’ roll and punk rock as it was a rejection of those things, the Scientists’ formula was as universal as it was specific to their own experience. The themes of getting wasted, driving around in hotted-up cars, being trapped in crap jobs, and paranoia were their subject matter. Machine throb bass and drums with jagged car-wreck guitars were their modus operandi. Fitting into no place or time they spurned all but the most rudimentary and elemental of rock structures to create a sound all their own.
–4CD includes complete studio recordings, live recordings, and a previously unissued set from Adelaide UniBar, plus dozens of previously unpublished photographs, discography, and fold out Perth Punk family tree.
–2LP version boils the box down to 23 essentials, plus unpublished photographs, discography, and fold out Perth Punk family tree.
–Deluxe mail-order only version includes previously unissued Cheap Nasties 7″ EP (limited to 1000) or 10 song cassette (limited to 100)!
The Numero Group is no stranger to loss. Having built a record label around the back-when accomplishments of retirement-age artists, death is an inevitability. Having spent the better part of three years trying to distill the Minneapolis Sound from a smattering of demoes and local releases, we had a molecular understanding of Prince’s role in empowering the musicians of the Twin Cities, shaping pop music in the process. First the Chicago Reader called for some first impressions, then Billboard. Meanwhile, at our Brooklyn pop-up store, Purple Snow evaporated from the bins, then the Lewis Conection LP, then the 94 East 45. All over the country, people were trying to process the passing of this superlative human. Writing these articles was cathartic, as was enabling people new glimpses into Prince’s early career. We were happy to help in any way we could.
Things will get better, but they’ll never be the same. Our deepest condolences go out to all of our Purple Snow players who were lucky enough to witness first-hand the greatness of Prince Rogers Nelson. Our sympathy to his devoted fans, who had to say goodbye to an icon who still had a few decades of greatness left in him. If any of these words or any of these releases can help you gain temporary relief or long-term closure on this tragic loss, then we’ve done our job.
When we arrived at work this morning (still nursing an #RSD2016 hangover), we were inundated with on-line orders for our Record Store Day exclusives, Blonde Redhead Peel Sessions 7″ and Los Alamos Grind! The rate at which these desirable titles are being gobbled up is far exceeding our expectations, so we can’t be certain how much longer these exceptional records will be available. You are on the rumble strips. Procrastinate at your own peril.
With this blog post, we make a solemn oath to reserve some of both titles for our Greenpoint pop-up shop (Thursday-Sunday of this week). But this doesn’t mean you can stroll in on Sunday and buy one for yourself and one for a friend. This blog post is intended to inspire; this blog post is intended to motivate. If you desire either of these titles (or both), there is currently no one holding you back but yourself.
Filed under: Record Store Day
On Saturday April 16th at 2pm, Chicago rap progenitors Stony Island will perform live at Logan Square’s Comfort Station, capping a twenty year hiatus. Scheduled to coincide with the Numero Group’s annual Record Store Day pop-up shop, Stony Island will exhume selections from their Golden Era songbook, the entirety of will be available for purchase via limited-edition, Krylon-colored cassettes, available exclusively at this event. For perspective, Stony Island lived the life that Common (then Common Sense) rapped about on record—train-riding, graffiti-writing, backpack-totting trips to bum rush WHPK mix shows. While Common gave the rap world a taste of Chicago, Stony Island inundated listeners with local folklore, name dropping El stops, record shops, and active officers on the city’s graffiti task force. For a guided tour of Stony Island, swipe your Metra card on the link below:
The Complete Works of Stony Island (cassette): Limited to 250 (50 each in red, blue, gray, yellow, purple), available ONLY at our Record Store Day pop-up (Facebook Event Page )