Hello music lovers... If you didn’t know, one of the most exciting, diverse and detailed oriented record labels in the world right now is based in Chicago. To tell the truth I have been aware of them for some time. I’ve seen ADs, email blasts, and online talk, but I tried to avoid it. Perhaps it sounds silly, but I just could not financially afford to get too familiar with something that sounded so intriguing.
However, over the last several months I have been steadily increasing Fifth Elements stock of Soul, Funk, R&B, Disco, Reggae, World Music, Rock, etc… That meant the time was ripe for me to dive in head first into the world of Numero Group, no matter the personal damage it may have on my income stability.
To make it even more convenient, or dangerous, the Numero team was recently in town and set up a meeting to stop by the shop. The first thing that was easily recognizable was these guys are all music lovers. Before we talked about any business, they were all flipping thru the FE racks and picking up stacks of goodies for themselves. Then I went outside to the Numero Mobile to go thru the seemingly endless boxes of Vinyl and CDs in the trunk… It was intoxicating and over-whelming all at once. They have a rather impressive sized catalog and every thing looks so great. There is a vast assortment of intriguing album covers, band names, and album titles. Plus the packaging is nearly worth the price of admission, with most CDs coming with extended liner notes, giving the amazing back-stories on these lost and found treasures. All I could do was just pick up a few copies of a bunch of titles that stood out. I’m in the process of thoroughly reviewing the complete catalog to get a better grasp and ultimately better stock on these titles.
There’s a wide range of sounds and styles to choose from; Soul, Funk, Gospel, Folk, Pop, Rock, and lately more 80s Hip Hop has been popping up as well!! I don’t even know where to begin with pointing out specific titles…. Here are just a few things that blew my mind:
24 Carat Black-Gone: The Promises Of Yesterday: This Chicago group is probably best know for their sampled gem “Ghetto: Misfortunes Wealth”. This is the unreleased, and thought lost, sophomore album. While the debut album covered social and economic issues, “Gone” focuses heavily on the topic of love. However, an assortment of great vocal talents paired with some excellent musicianship make it hit just as powerful. Strong drum foundations with jazzy vibes on top, often having a sort of outer-wordly feel, but on a subject we can all relate too.
[audio:http://www.fifthelementonline.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/01-The-Best-Of-Good-Love-Gone.mp3|titles=01 The Best Of Good Love Gone]
Brotherman: The liner notes explain this as “The unfinished soundtrack to a film that was barely begun”. The band at play here is The Final Solution from Chicago. They deliver 20 songs of some serious soul. The lead off, title track, is powerful and seductive all at once, creating a near perfect visual for what this film could have been. One can’t help but visualize young black men decked out in sharp suits of varying colors, handling business in urban city streets. They continue on with more slices of funk, passionate ballads, and a whole lot of soul.
Father’s Children-Who’s Gonna Save The World: All I have to say about this is Pure Unadulterated Soul! On your next open Summer weekend, get your loved one, get in the car, and take a long drive and let Father’s Children provide the soundtrack…
[audio:http://www.fifthelementonline.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/01-Everybodys-Got-A-Problem.mp3|titles=01 Everybody's Got A Problem]
The Four Mints-Gently Down Your Stream: Wherever you end your above-mentioned drive, make it somewhere romantic and your early evening can be put in the hands of The Four Mints. Straight out of Columbus, Ohio, these gentlemen have poured out there hearts in the name of love, for the benefit of us all
Syl Johnson: Hopefully you are already familiar with this gladiator of soul! His catalog tells the story of a legend. Numero Group have assembled an amazing BOX SET which includes; Six LPs, Four CDs, liner notes, photos...basically, everything but the man himself is inside this box! More recently a special 45 box set as well!!
There’s so much more greatness beyond that! When I first put on that Stone Coal White CD and “You Know” hit me with it’s muddy guitar, gritty recording, and eventually that heavy but smooth voice, I felt like they were channeling the energies of Bootsy Collins and Jimi Hendrix all at once.
The two “Good God” compilations will most likely make you a believer of the music, not matter your faith. This is quite possibly the funkiest means of praising the lord ever assembled. Don't believe just get a taste of Preacher & The Saints and their "Jesus Rhapsody":
[audio:http://www.fifthelementonline.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/01-Jesus-Rhapsody-Pt.-1.mp3|titles=01 Jesus Rhapsody, Pt. 1]
“Soul Messages from Dimona” is a great collection of some inspirational music. The story of its origin and meaning is as powerful as the music itself. I immediately recognized the Sons Of The Kingdom “Modernization”, an amazing soulful and forward thinking track. From the moments I first heard it several years ago, courtesy Kenny Dope, I knew there was something special about it, with someone speaking on the dangers of losing our humanity in the pursuit of greed and technology.
12” Selections: I picked up a handful of their singles as well. Here are the ones that I have had a chance to check out.
Jay Mitchell-Mustang Sally: 3 tracks of funk, including a 13 Minute drum and organ work-out that is my newfound favorite version of this classic song.
Hip Hop Disco 12” Series: Numero Group has released a handful of some early Hip Hop jams as well.
The most famous of them would be the Master Jay & Michael Dee “T.S.O.B” track. An early representation out of Brooklyn, that has the disco beat/party rhyme vibe that was a standard when it originally dropped in ’80. It is also the source were I first heard the “Shark Story” that was rehashed in Hip Hop later by Mele Mel, Dr Jeckyll & Mr Hyde, etc...
The Fabulous 3 MCs “Rub A Dub Dub” was scheduled for release in ’81, but never released until now. It’s a pretty
weird concept, delivered with undaunted East Coast confidence on a slow funky beat, vaguely reminiscent of Cloud One’s “Patty Duke”, primarily for it’s space gun sound effects.
Missy Dee & The Melody Crew’s “Missy Missy Dee” should be lauded as one of the greatest early Female rap records, but instead has been mostly lost in obscurity since it’s original release in ’81. I discovered it first on the “Original Style” Compilation in ’04, but here it is now, how it was intended, in 12” format with the instrumental on the flip.
One of the most intriguing and interesting releases in their Hip Hop series is the Doc Rhymin’ 12”. This is some unreleased Cleveland, Ohio Hip Hop circa ’87. It’s some serious raw stripped down drum machine rap! When you see titles like “Dictionary Rap”, “Practicioner Of Rhymes” and “No Title Can Describe It”, you KNOW you are in for something “fantabulous” and out-there! Please Numero Group, find some more gems like this!!
[audio:http://www.fifthelementonline.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/Doc-Rhymin-Dictionary-Rap.mp3|titles=Doc Rhymin-Dictionary Rap]
I still have a huge pile of releases to give a proper listen to. I have this “Eccentric Breaks & Beats” at the top of the stack since it looks so promising. I’ll keep you updated with what I find.
In the meantime, feel free to start or update you Numero Group collection NOW! If you are looking for anything particular from the label let us know, as we are placing new orders with them regular, even we have a lot of catching up to do…