Devotion To Duty
Shop Around 20
Taking pride of place in my room at the moment are the four releases from the Numero Group. They are exquisite pop artefacts. The attention to detail is impressive. And I urge you all to indulge.
The Numero Group is a bespoke salvage operation, operating out of Chicago, and run by music obsessives Tom Lunt and Ken Shipley. Quite rightly they invest a lot of love into creating beautiful objects, with detailed booklets, loads of photos. And best of all consistently themed, generic packaging. Now I’m a real sucker for that sort of thing. You get it a lot with books like the Penguin Classics, or the Rebel Inc Classics series but it’s frustratingly rare with records. Though, in fairness, Ze, Impulse!, Kent, Blood and Fire, and Soul Jazz are honourable exceptions.
The Numero Group is running a wonderfully named Eccentric Soul series, focussing on lost local soul/funk labels from the ‘60s and ‘70s. So far the spotlight’s been on Capsoul from Columbus, Ohio, and Bandit from Chicago, and the music’s sensationally uplifting and in turn raises wonderful questions about just how much amazing music was produced by local independent soul/funk labels at this time. Quite simply if you like your old soul and funk stuff, you’ll love these sets.
My own favourite Numero release is the salvaged set of Camino Del Sol by Antena, with lots of lovely extras. Think Astrid Gilberto and Tom Jobim doing Suicide’s Be Bop Kid or Cheree, throw in Francoise Hardy and the Marine Girls, and you will be in the area covered by these young French explorers at the start of the ‘80s. These frail sounds are utterly heartwarming and deliciously danceable. Originally released on the excellent Crepescule label, it all ties into a great story about the adventuresomeness beyond punk on the European mainland think of LiliPUT, Malaria!, Marine for starters.
Antena’s story like so many others of the time is a tragic tale of false starts and unrealised potential, nonchalance and a blatant disregard for the rules of the game. I loved their 'Be Pop single madly, and it was almost a manifesto for years. It thankfully has been salvaged by our old friends at LTM, as part of their series of Isabel Antena reissues. These are well worth investigating after indulging in the glories of Camino Del Sol, though the first En Cavale is very much of its time. With the ubiquitous Camelle Hinds on bass, Danny Cummings on percussion, and Martin Hayles (of Orange Juice fame) at the controls, it’s pleasantly funky, lightly latin-esque new pop. The 1987 follow-up Hoping For Love is more jazzy, and all the better for it.