Tuesday, February 14, 2006


(CNN) -- Ken Shipley wants to sell a few records. Not necessarily millions, not necessarily enough to earn a large plaque of gold-painted plastic on the wall.

A few thousand would be nice. A few thousand to a hard-core group of people who really care about music.

"I don't think you can go into the record business [today] and think you're going to sell a million records," says Shipley, co-founder of the re-issue label the Numero Group, from his home base in Chicago, Illinois.

"The basis of our philosophy is to have loyal people [who seek out the brand]. That's more valuable than selling a million copies of one record."

So Shipley, a former A&R manager for funky-artsy (David Bowie, Frank Zappa, Bootsy Collins) label Rykodisc, is digging.

There are hundreds of records out there -- old singles and albums -- that have never gotten the proper attention, he believes. He's trying to give them an outlet.

He and his business partner, Tom Lunt, started Numero with that intent. So far, the company has released three CDs: "Eccentric Soul: The Capsoul Label," a compilation of soul music from a Columbus, Ohio, record company; "Camino Del Sol" by Antena, a reissue of a 1982 LP by an obscure French group; and "Eccentric Soul: The Bandit Label," a compilation of songs -- some of which were remastered from battered 45s and cassettes about to go to the city dump -- from a South Side Chicago label run out of what the liner notes call "a musical commune."

"We stumble into this stuff all the time," he says. "We're saving bits of Americana and American music."