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BODDIE ROCK: Dante Carfagna on Numero’s Latest Stunner
10/25/2011, 10:43 AM
Filed under: Interviews | Tags: , ,

“Why (It’s A Shame)” by Corinthian Singers

“Crystal Illusion” by Creations Unlimited

Numero’s new project is a stunning one– even by their high standard of excellence. Boddie Recording Company: Cleveland Ohio tells the story of Thomas Boddie, a young man whom upon returning from WW2 used his army money to buy recording equipment. Thomas was always curious with electronics, building his first studio in the early ’50s in his own basement. In 1958 he founded Boddie Recordings–one of America’s first black-owned recording companies–jointly ran with his wife Louise Boddie.

There the couple did everything in-house, recording anyone who wanted limited pressings of themselves, quick and cheaply. Thomas even fashioned equipment for a portable set-up allowing him to capture all kinds of events and live performances. Between 1958-1993 Boddie recorded over 10,000 hours of tape and put out 300 LPs and 45s. They pressed their own records and even started small labels just to keep their output ongoing.

They were Cleveland’s first black-owned recording company and ended up being Cleveland’s longest running studio, dubbed “Little Nashville” by traveling gospel groups who’d pass through over time. There is so much more to this incredible story; of course the music is stellar but the photgraphs of Mr. Boddie’s contraptions are astounding. Mr. Boddie sadly passed away on his 84th birthday in 2006.

The cats at Numero aren’t known for ignoring details and Boddie was a massive undertaking in a myriad of ways. Once inside, the sheer amount of material to sift through was itself staggering. In all, the process took close to 5 years to complete according to Numero.

Part of the team who put this together is Dante Carfagna, archivist, DJ, occasional producer, and writer who’s currently at work with DJ Shadow on a book about 45s–specifically, an annotated discography of every (possible) funk (or funk/jazz/soul related) 45 released between ’66-’77. He was a huge factor in assembling one of Numero’s finest releases, Eccentric Soul: The Prix Label and was also pivotal behind Boddie. Here, Dante debriefs a bit about Boddie and describes some of his own background in the business.

Quickly introduce yourselves for our readers.
My name is Dante Carfagna, content provider for the stars. Virgo. Wearer of Filson jackets and Bemidji shirt-jacs. Still sport Dickies with a cuff and a crease.

What was your main role with the Boddie project? Are there any particular songs that grabbed you the most?
I had been collecting and keeping track of the objects manufactured by Thomas and Louise Boddie for some time. There came a critical point… Continue reading

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SylMatic
08/03/2010, 2:28 AM
Filed under: Tunes | Tags: ,

‘Falling In Love’

Besides the awesomeness of having Syl Johnson’s best tracks in one HUGE BOXSET, it also allows fans of his work to fill in gaps between his rare songs and more known recordings. ‘Falling In Love’ is an early, simple Syl tune done for TMP-Ting Records, 1965.

The upcoming release, The Syl Johnson Mythology is being put out by Numero, probably the only label that could curate something like this and nail it. With Syl being sampled so much through the years, and with him hitting the road again, the timing of this is perfect. It’s also an effort to get some funds back to Syl, who is now 74, and who has in the past attempted epic lawsuits to get paid for his work.

This is a massive release, a 6LP + 4CD Boxset. Be ready for some epic listening (81 tracks!) and linernotes (52 pages!) when this comes out late October. I’ll be linking up with Syl soon for an upcoming interview, so keep an eye out in the months to come!



Devilish Tunes
11/17/2009, 10:00 AM
Filed under: Tunes | Tags: , ,

Pious funk from old Chicago? I was sold from the get-go. Personally, gospel—and just religious music in general—rarely moves me, but these aren’t your typical songs about Jesus. Actually, they’re not at all hymn-like: gruff vocals, sweaty grooves and bass slaps delivered raucously sums up Good God! Born Again Funk, a new project by Numero.

Derived mostly from Thomas Dorsey, an entrepreneurial bluesman who reconfigured praise-songs, these 18 tracks replace “baby” with “Jesus” and somberness for shouts. The singers, quartets, and neighborhood folks were recruited by Dorsey who sought to exploit the small but devoted market for religious music. In fact, the title of Ada Richard’s song “I’m Drunk and Real High (In The Spirit Of The Lord)” reflects Dorsey’s whole approach.

Please visit Numero’s site to hear and buy the upcoming album (1/26/10). Like their previous divine release, Good God! Born Again Funk is a thorough listen. Check out Numero’s blog to read more on the legwork behind this and other projects. Below are excerpts from a couple choice cuts:

The Sensational Five Singing Sons’ “Share Your Love With Your Master” has such personality and all kinds of elements–dialogue, an early break, crazy guitar work, and hard vocals. This track brings the funk and is fun to boot.

TL Barrett’s “Like A Ship” opens the album and is also its most mellow. Energy-wise, it’s tepid compared to the others but the lyrics (“Just like a ship…without a sail…but I know I can make it…”) sung faintly by the choir make it overwhelmingly earnest.



Linda Bruner, Pisces, A Lovely Sight
05/18/2009, 11:12 PM
Filed under: Tunes | Tags: , , ,

Linda Bruner sounds a lot like Janis Joplin at times, often intense, troubled, and totally bare. Her accent was deeply Southern, her hair was described as “a rat’s nest”. She grew up in Loves Park, the poor sector of Rockford, Illinois, in the late-‘60s and was discovered by her guitar instructor, Jim Krein. At seventeen, she joined Krein’s struggling yet determined psych band, Pisces, and recorded four songs with them. She is also said to have worked on a solo album around the same time which she abandoned and left unfinished. Pisces’s story and music will be released by the Numero Group on an upcoming CD, A Lovely Sight, fifteen unreleased songs that include Linda Bruner’s lone recordings. According to the liner notes: “When last heard from, Linda was embroiled in a check fraud scheme and was on the run.”

linda bruner (3)

A Lovely Sight places Bruner’s dim story into the context of Pisces’ larger saga. Pisces was just another exuberant late-‘60s psych band, purposely woozy and highly derivative, but in a good way. And while the project is, I think, anchored by Bruner’s contributions, Pisces’ psychadelia isn’t corny or wildly fragmented, and sound like a mix between Jefferson Airplane and Donovan.

Below is “Sam”, the Pisces’ third single that never was. It begins like a late ‘80s rap cut before clumsy snares are joined by muddy bass. It all works well, made especially effective by Bruner’s uneasy vocals. Hear a clip of it below.

Hear “SAM” BY PISCES FEAT. LINDA BRUNER

Bruner’s other tracks from the album are also killer, particularly “You Are Changing In Your Time”. To hear those, and to purchase A Lovely Sight, please visit Numero’s storefront.



Anonymous Exuberance (part 2): Interview with Ken Shipley
03/25/2009, 10:15 PM
Filed under: Interviews | Tags: , , , , ,

numerotrag-2

Some re-issues are stunning discoveries, some certainly weren’t meant to be heard. And in this arena of labels and collectors elbowing their way towards the next big find, Numero has quietly released comps flooded with what would be called “lost masterpieces”. And the packaging, the photographs they use, the people they examine, are almost equally impressive as the music itself.

The Numero Group is founder Ken Shipley, and his partners Tom Lunt and Rob Sevier. They, along with a dedicated team scour the country for forgotten music, but more than that, they uncover intimate histories of labels, cities, weirdos, regular folks, and document them with astounding respect and detail. We’re big fans and are lucky to have Mr. Shipley show us his “terribly unglamorous” operation, explaining exactly how and why, he does what he does. You get the feeling these guys would be looking for records, even if it weren’t their jobs—maybe not to this extent—but obsessed and looking nonetheless. Here’s to Numero for sharing so much music and otherwise forgotten histories.

Please introduce yourself for fans wondering who you are and what you do?
Ken Shipley, the Numero Group’s minister of information. Continue reading



Anonymous Exuberance (part 1): The Numero Group is Killing It
03/19/2009, 10:04 AM
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: ,

nu1-2

By Nate LeBlanc

Chicago-based archival label The Numero Group has emerged as one of the most reliable record labels in the world in the past five years. This post will focus on their Eccentric Soul series, which is exactly what it sounds like; lovingly detailed reissues of below-the-radar soul sides that have never been widely available outside of their respective localities. My curiosity was initially piqued by their stark packaging (one picture on the front, a number, and a plain white back cover with no further info, track titles, or clues as to the contents) yet deterred by high price tags (generally $20 or so for CDs and around $25 for wax). However, now that I’ve had a taste, I feel like I’m addicted to these comps, scouring eBay for originals I can’t afford, re-reading liner notes, and finding things to like about the tracks that didn’t initially stand out. My personal history with the label goes a little something like this (hit it!):

Continue reading