Every Friday, Dusted Magazine publishes a series of music-related lists compiled by our favorite artists. This week: The Numero Group and Wilderness.
Listed: The Numero Group + Wilderness
The Numero Group
In barely a year Chicago's Numero Group has established itself as one of the premier reissue labels in the country. Relying on the passion of two music industry ex-pats, Ken Shipley and Rob Sevier have used their own cunning and meta-cunning, reissuing astounding gems and assigning curatorial duties to some of the more esoteric experts around. Their Yellow Pills: Prefill compilation, assembled by power pop knowitall Jordan Oakes is two hours of some of the catchiest music you've never heard. A recently reissued Antena showed everyone where Stereolab really got their inspiration. Their latest release is a country-gospel gem by Fern Jones called The Glory Road. The only label missing from this gem of a list is The Numero Group itself!
Top Ten Reissue Labels by Ken Shipley of The Numero Group
It all started here, so I suppose it's important to lead off with them. An extremely diverse catalog that contains some of the most massive labels. Fantasy (and subsequently Stax, Prestige, OJC, Riverside), Westbound, Modern, Vanguard... the list goes on and on. Their packages leave a bit to be desired, but musically you can't touch them.
Zombies - Zombie Heaven
V/A - Shrine: The Rarest Soul Label
V/A - Pet Projects: The Brian Wilson Productions
This is the place to go for straight up vinyl reissues. 180 gram vinyl, gatefold sleeves, and seriously great taste. The product is expensive, but highly worth it. Their greatest asset is the ability to release any type of record and not lose a step. Folk, hip hop, reggae, punk, free jazz... they could issue the complete works of Jimmy Buffett and still get it right.
Jerry Moore - Life Is A Constant Journey Home
Grandmaster Flash - Message
Bert Jansch - Birthday Blues
The house that Maiden built. Or at the very least, the catalog that Eddie built. Re-mastering the entire Trojan and related label's catalog was a task not many were up to taking on, and yet look at it now. Ditto for the HDH label's Hot Wax and Invictus. Steer clear of the three disc reggae boxes and head straight for the two disc artist collections. While the boxes look nice, there's a ton of overlap.
Honey Cone - Soulful Sugar: The Complete Hot Wax Recordings
Phyllis Dillon - Love Is All I Know
Freda Payne - Unhooked Generation: The Complete Invictus Recordings
A case of great taste. While most of it is licensed from major labels, they have a specific vision that is unlike Collectables, Wounded Bird, or Sundazed. It doesn't take a genius to put together a collection of non-Beatles Apple recordings, but did anyone else actually do it?
V/A - Velvet Tinmine: 20 Junk Shop Glam Ravers
The Knight Brothers - Temptation
Timi Yuro - The Lost Voice Of Soul
6. Blood & Fire
These guys do reggae right. Born out of a passion for the music and culture, they've managed to assemble one of the tightest independent catalogs out there.
Jackie Mittoo - Champion In The Arena 1976-1977
Johnny Clarke - Dreader Dread "1976-1978"
Max Romeo Open The Iron Gate "1973-1977"
Their will to release every note Miles Davis ever played is astounding. I didn't know I needed a four disc set of Live At The Blackhawk until it was made available to me. The Byrds reissues they did set a new standard in the field for excellence. Now only if they would get on those other Bill Withers albums...
Bill Withers - Still Bill
The Byrds - Untitled / Unissued
Johnny Cash - Love / God / Murder
4. Honest Jon's
This label just emits class. Every release is gorgeously designed and housed in a sturdy sleeve. The records feel like you're pulling them right out of someone's personal collection. Forget Blur.
Cedric IM Brooks & The Light Of Saba - S/T
Lord Kitchener & Friends - London Is The Place For Me
Bettye Swann - S/T
3. Dust To Digital
Only two releases to date, but both are works of art. Anyone who releases a record in a wooden box is alright in my book. And if you throw cotton in there, well, you've really taken it to another level.
V/A - Goodbye Babylon
V/A - Where Will You Be Christmas Day?
2. Rhino Handmade
It's tough not to place them number one, but given the fact that they've been given access to three of the greatest catalogs ever assembled, they have a serious advantage. I generally root for the underdog whenever possible, and this time will be no exception. That said, their attention to detail is top shelf, from the notes down to the paper stock. Their release schedule is slow and steady, which is nice as it gives you time to digest each release before buying the next.
Judee Sill - S/T
Percy Mayfield - Tangerine & Atlantic Sides
Jack Nitzsche - Three Piece Suite: The Complete Reprise Recordings 1971-1973
1. Smithsonian Folkways
I don't think there's a better game going in the business. Their records are like little history books. Forget the Louisiana Purchase, the best deal the US government ever made was buying that Folkways catalog.
Recommended:Woody Guthrie - Muleskinner Blues
Elizabeth Cotten - Shake Sugaree
Roscoe Holcomb - The High Lonesome Sound
Baltimore quartet Wilderness have been stewing and simmering for quite a while - nearly ten years - for a band on the verge of releasing their debut record. The record, which is self-titled and comes out soon on the Jagjaguwar label, seems to indicate that all the waiting has paid off. Although the album isn't out for a few weeks, the buzz is already starting to build around this purportedly Lydon-edsue ensemble. Indeed while press and press releases have dropped a variety of early-to-mid 80s wavers, perhaps intentionally left out are the modern-day bands of whom Wilderness may remind listeners...many of whom may or may not come from Montreal. Wilderness split their listing duties up, which three members providing three items, and one item coming from the entire band.
1. San Serac - Ice Age
"Where would you predict it's headed, professor? This endless calvacade of violent aggressors? You: statistical projector. I've assumed the role of de facto atrocity collector. By the vestibule I'm gathering the nerve. You've announced that you'll reveal the axial curve on the overhead projector. At last I graduate to spiritual defector. As the data is sorted, the figures emerge, I'm amazed. The frequency, volume and sheer brutality jump from the page, astonishing murders!" And so begins the San Serac album. From Lazlo Moholy-Nagy to market research, the ocean of sounds and topic moats race around in the stratosphere of be here be here. Think weird whodunit mincing toasts at 'the Autobahn', that discotheque in the neither world. A better description of the music is on the website. Nat is also in the Internet band who blow our minds and thought projections. We are touring this summer with him and his wife as that outfit. YES!
1. Young Bird - YB Style
Blew my concept of what can be achieved into a predisposed bag of tar. This brings me invisible tears of joy. This in the style of pow-wow music. Singing and beating the drum, Young Bird weaves in and out of insane melodies with multiple voices. With a presence of life and vitality on the tongue and from the heart this is the perfect economy and use of music. Young men sounding of the ancients. Took my head out of the bag.
2. Charlemagne Palestine
Recorded music is peculiar. As I drive a truck for a living, I am grateful someone figured it out. Music is vital on the road and the lengthy "figure out how your mind works" catagory is welcome. My favorite is Palestine....Think Macho Man Randy Savage meeting all the Queens of England and presenting a hearty hand clasp on the Astral Plane with a piano in the form of borderline hostility seeking the succinctly delicate to broaden the human attempt level. Godbear and 4 Manifestations on 6 Elements are great albums. Also thanks to Pandit Pran Nath, Terry Riley. Hypnotic Time...
3 .JR Gong - Jamrock
The dancehall mix cds are a mainstay. The incessant 70+minute mix cd is perfect for driving. Any culture mix with the song "Jamrock" on it at present... the tune opens with a sample of ini kamoze singing, "Out in the street they call it murder"... "Welcome to jamdown, poor people a dead at random, political violence caan dun, pure ghosts and phantoms, the youth them get blind by stardom." Yes yes yes. That last line again...blind by stardom.
1. Neil Young - Decade
Once heard Neil in a radio interview liken his relationship with the guitar to deep earth mining... many times, when lost deep into the night, he has shined his searchlight for me on the one true place. There was a time, for about a year, that if asked to write this list, six or eight of the records probably would've been by Neil Young.
2. Steve Reich - Tehillim
Recorded in 1982, this record sounds thousands of years old. Several beautiful, harmonizing voices singing their ecstatic praises. Selected psalms sung in the original Hebrew over a droning, seemingly ancient orchestra that ultimately disintegrates into how light might sound. A truly thankful music.
3. Pylon - 12" single on Armageddon
A good buy and pleasant surprise for $1.99. Jagged, pointy guitars, bass and drums locked in. Vaguely reminicent of the Slits. Somehow seems like a missing link that has been found for me. I think they were early peers of R.E.M. in Athens, GA.
3. Devo - Duty Now For The Future
Vocalist Gerald Casale once said, "On this album we did much more with guitars...sometimes you don't know that they're guitars." An accurate title for a clairvoyant album. Fact: In 1970, Casale was in Students for a Democratic Society in college with friends Miller and Krause. Those two friends were shot and killed at the Kent State Vietnam War protest. Casale probably considered that he was seeing humanity move backwards in time at that very moment. Perhaps that experience led him to react with a hopeful music to express humanity moving forward... but in artistic code... This was an inspirational crystal ball flattened onto a listenable plastic.
2. Ethiopiques #8- Swingin Addis (Buda Musique)
'Swinging', as in dancing and shaking your booty - 'Addis' as in Addis Ababa, capital of Ethiopia. This compilation of early 70's ethio-rock'n'soul is a sonic lifeform of rawness and reality. The music rings happiness but with sorrowful words of truth. For example, in Ayalew Mesfin's "My Worry": "My worry, stop tormenting me. Don't ruin me. Whatever God has decided will happen anyway, so I'm worrying for nothing..." Keep the faith, brother.
3. This Heat - Deceit
This record is unfortunately difficult to attain, but is a hidden treasure worth crossing oceans for. I truly hold dear this rare gem. This record opened doors in my mind. One cannot deny this dignity of honest labor. They were a force. Neo-symphonic melodies floating above bowels of dissonance. I can imagine blood on the guitar strings, blown vocal cords, wiry electronics, African battlefield drums. The song 'Cenotaph': the chorus goes, "...history repeats itself, repeats itself, repeats itself..." This Heat's music helps remind me that music is not just music, but that it is sound... and that sound is eternal.
By Dusted Magazine