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Chicago reissue geniuses the Numero Group have slowly expanded the scope of their excellent operation over the years, finding savvy new ways to generate interest in their projects. A couple years ago they added the Asterisk imprint to their mini-empire as an outlet for straight album reissues, as opposed to the expertly curated anthologies that remain their bread and butter. They've also reissued ten seven-inch 45s from the Twinight Records catalog.
Still it seems like they're only getting started: Numero has just announced two new imprints and its first live show.
The Local Customs series will focus on obscure records cut in out-of-the-way locales--"woodsheds, basements, and living rooms"--by entrepreneurial types who rarely managed to cash in. The debut release, Downriver Revival (out March 24), features work recorded by a guy from Ecorse, Michigan, named Felton Williams, who originally released the music on a number of small labels. The compilation promises bits of gospel, soul, garage punk, jazz, and funk from 1967 through '81. The package, available on CD or double LP, will also include a DVD containing more than 200 audio recordings from Williams's archives and a 30-minute video documentary on the making of the compilation.
The Numerphon series are vinyl-only releases "focused on the rediscovery of primitive American and ethnic recordings." The first title, Songs of Leaving, by New York folkie Niela Miller, arrives on February 10. According to the label, her song "Baby Don't Go to Town" was swiped and revised by her boyfriend Billy Roberts as "Hey Joe."
I don't have any idea what either of these releases will sound like, but knowing the Numero Group's high standards it should all be worth a listen, and a read--there are always fascinating liner notes to go along with the sounds.
Finally, that live show! On April 4 at the Park West, the Numero Group presents "The Eccentric Soul Revue," which will feature a slew of former Twinight artists, headlined by the great Syl Johnson. Johnson, the Notations, and Nate Evans are still active, but the others on the bill have been lured out of three-decade retirements for the occasion. The Uptown Sound will serve as the house band.