The List: Essential Numero Group

Andy Downing
Marlon Black

It could be argued that every Numero Group release is essential, but collecting all of the LPs issued by the Chicago-based archival label would do serious damage to one's wallet (not to mention your home-storage space). With Norman Whiteside set to perform in honor of the 40th anniversary of Wee's You Can Fly on My Aeroplane, which was reissued by Numero in 2008 and appears on this list, we thought we'd take a look at 10 releases from the label that everyone should consider adding to their collection. Here they are, in no particular order.

Wee:You Can Fly on My Aeroplane

Joel rightly describes this as “soul from the future” in his feature interview with Whiteside (read it in its entirety on page 18). This is one Columbus classic every local music fan should own.

Eccentric Soul: The Capsoul Label

And here's another. The first-ever Numero Group release unearthed lost gems from Bill Moss' local Capsoul imprint, including Marion Black's “Who Knows,” a shuffling soul ditty that works its way into your bones like winter cold.

Boddie Recording Company: Cleveland, Ohio

For more than 20 years, Thomas and Louise Boddie provided low-cost recording from 12202 Union Ave. in Cleveland, and this set gathers the odd 45s and singles pressed at the address, much of it falling under the psychedelic soul umbrella.

Light: On the South Side

This comp of '70s Chicago soul is as colorful as the musicians who populate the collection, including Arlean Brown, who boasts of being “built like an outhouse, with not a brick out of place” on the strutting “I'm a Streaker Baby.”

Bedhead: 1992-1998

The Texas-based indie-rock band specialized in music as dazed and slow-moving as its mornings-evoking name might imply. Not for the impatient, but these slow-and-steady tunes make an impact.

Eccentric Soul: The Way Out Label

Not only is Jim Brown the best running back in pro football history, he also helped finance this Cleveland label, which served as an outpost for all manner of soul outsiders such as Bobby Wade, whose soaring “Can't You Hear Me Calling” can't help but set hearts aflutter.

Good God! A Gospel Funk Hymnal

I grew up going to Catholic school and only wish our choir director had been on this many psychedelics.

Purple Snow: Forecasting the Minneapolis Sound

Prince will always and forever be the juggernaut of the Minneapolis funk scene. This box set traces those scene roots backwards, presenting a fuller picture of the music that would become part of his DNA.

Codeine:When I See the Sun

Clearly Numero has a fondness for slowcore when it ventures from its soul/R&B roots. With bands such as Bedhead and New York City's glacial Codeine, which released a trio of albums on Sub Pop in the early '90s (a time when slow and steady didn't play well with the mainstream), it's a choice well made.

Eccentric Soul: The Deep City Label

Numero ventured to Miami, Florida, for this '70s soul release. There's not a dud here, but Them Two's bruised, swooning “Am I a Good Man” easily ranks among the best tracks the label has ever uncovered.