We're thinking about summer tunes. If you've ever been in the store and noted the unusual soundtrack, maybe wondered where we dug up that great soul tune you never heard, or how we found a reggae version of "Mustang Sally," it's because our intrepid friend, listener and stockroom task master Ben Arnold has rooted out some great forgotten soul music. Here's his report....
Numero Group is a re-issue label from Chicago that resurrects lost and obscure soul recordings. Founder Ken Shipley says, "The basis of our philosophy is to have loyal people [who seek out the brand]. That's more valuable than selling a million copies of one record." As major record labels tend to overlook this obscure music, it is nice to have a company that is committed to reissuing the songs found within these collections which, in many cases, were number one hits in their regions.
Numero goes beyond the standard genre anthology. Instead of piecing together random-yet-overplayed tracks that could be easily licensed, Numero has chosen to search the globe for artifacts from long lost soul labels. Each album of the collection focuses on one particular artist or record label, and the anthology now includes over 20 individual albums of material.
The entire anthology is broken into two main categories of music, Eccentric Soul and Cult Cargo. The Eccentric Soul collections make up the bulk of the anthology and are reissues of obscure American soul labels, while the Cult Cargo reissues focus on soul music from around the world. Also included in the collection are a select number of albums which focus on a particular artist or group. This blurs the idea of a completely soul-oriented label but still offers an interesting listening experience.
The reissues are the product of true audiophiles. Each disc is packaged in an attractive slip case and includes lengthy liner notes which give detailed descriptions of the label, the artists and the song. Most of the material is available in a CD, MP3 or vinyl format. That’s right, I said vinyl. All of the usual pops and buzzes associated with reissued music can be found in these collections, but instead of distracting the listener, these sounds give the music an authenticity which is a true testament to the work of Numero Group.
Although each album of the collection is worth the listen, the following are some of my favorites from the anthology:
Num 009 Eccentric Soul: Big Mack Label — I have actually witnessed the redemptive soul-saving effect that this album can have. It is one of those rare albums that cause people to involuntarily dance, or convulse, as some have called my dancing. Essential Track — "Bui Bui"
Num 010 Good God! A Gospel Funk Hymnal — If every Sunday were like this, I would become a priest! Essential Track — "A Poor Wayfaring Stranger"
Num 014 Cult Cargo: Grand Bahama Goombay — This album is funky! It shows that all of those Isaac Hayes/STAX missionary trips to the Bahamas paid off. Essential Track — "Gonna Build a Nation"
And just in: Eccentric Soul: The Tragar & Note Labels, featuring some very lively Southern soul from Atlanta, and perhaps one of the most unusual collections yet, Good God! Soul Messages from Dimona, a far-out blend of Black Hebrew gospel, jazz & psychedelic disco in the desert ... just what you want to hear while you're shopping for books.
You really can’t go wrong purchasing any album from this collection. Several of these albums are available at Turnrow and all of them can be ordered ... just drop us a line. For information about Numero Group check out their website, or come down to Turnrow and request to hear a sample.