Numero Uno Rocko

Dead man, I only hear a rattle when you breathe …

I’m in retro heaven folks, thanks to those groovy guys and crazy cats from Numero Group Records.  Last year, courtesy of Mr HMO*, I was introduced to them via the wonderful Nuggets-style hard rock collection Warfaring Strangers: The Darkscorch Canticles, which was a very beautiful item indeed, so beautiful it went on to win the Jack Bruce Memorial Award for the ‘best-looking and put together LP’ in 2014.

Numero Group have a great reputation for putting out lovingly researched and packaged reissues of small soul labels, documenting certain scenes and eras, as well as dealing with and distributing the back catalogues of the likes of Codeine and Bedhead.  Their stuff really does go that extra mile in terms of research and delivery, just go and have a mooch about on their website and drool.  I had a close look at their rock reissues last year and was intrigued by their small, but select, umm, selection:

Josefus Dead Man.  Texan proto heavy psych merchants, they used to play with ZZ Top and 13th Floor Elevators in tiny clubs and in 1970 they borrowed money from their families, roadtripped out to Phoenix and cut this album.  Contains a heavy version of the Stones ‘Gimme Shelter’ and the brilliant, tripped out, rocked out 17 minute title track, which sounds exactly how Iron Butterfly should have done.  Plus it has a grinning skull on the cover, come on people! I only got this last week and I’m really loving it, you don’t hear them touted as rock forefathers because of lousy bad luck, rather than any dearth of talent.  Perfect in-the-dark-with-candles music, as demonstrated here:

Numero Group Rockers 01
Last night at chez 1537

Wicked Lester You Are Doomed.  A double 7″ with interesting liner notes about the travails of a bunch of Cleveland high school students who picked up the baton of using Kiss’ original name in 1979 and fuelled by ‘girls, drugs, sports and jock rivalry’ cut a few blistering tracks at a local studio on the wrong side of the city, releasing their sole 7″ in 1981.  They also appear to have stolen Van Halen’s logo, somewhere along the line! I love the churning, punk because-they-can’t-play-so-great-yet quality of these four tracks.  Despite its overly macho adolescent title ‘Woman You’re Gonna Pay For This’ is excellent, real fizzy.

Numero Group Rockers 02
Man, those shorts …

Circuit Rider‘s self-titled LP from 1981 was apparently once voted in the Top 10 albums ‘most likely to be owned by a serial killer’.  I can think of no higher, or more appropriate accolade.  No, really. I only got this album this morning and I’ve played it twice and I’m starting to feel uneasy being left in a room alone with me.  This is one of the strangest, bike-exhaust, gin and sweat-stinking psychotic blues hoe-down LP’s in my whole collection.  It was apparently all the work of one Thorn Oehrig, who insisted that the front cover showed a lizard worshipping a snake nailed to a cross – good job he got in there before One Direction did.

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Medusa First Step Beyond, was the LP that the Chicago band never managed to make during their lifetime.  This 1976-ish session was a perfect amalgam of gnarly old riff hoes like Sabbath and Pentagram.  You have to have no soul/sold it already, not to dig tunes like ‘Strangulation’ and ‘Temptress’, let alone the jazz-inflicted ‘Black Wizard’.  Best non-musical thing about this LP is the fact that (Gulp) the sleeve is made of faux-velvet, oh yes – this is a Satanic fuzzy felt beauty like no other in my collection.  Sometimes I just stroke my cheek with it when I’m alone**.

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Apart from showing the fact that I’ve spent far too much on new (to me) music over the last few months, I think this all shows just how damn well Numero Group are picking and packaging the past for us.  I’ve never really been a label geekoid, but I’m very fast becoming one here.

Dead man, you could have been living if you tried …

I promise that once I come down from my retro-induced state of euphoria I’ll review everything in a suitably dispassionate manner …. that plush, though.

535 Down (Still)

Wicked Lester:




*Bring back the squirrel, dude.

**maybe I just shared too much. Sorry.

36 thoughts on “Numero Uno Rocko

      1. Given that (by my celestial clock) you’d be on a Monday morning commute, I imagine out-loud giggling might earn you some strange glances. If so, just smile and whistle ‘Miles runs the voodoo down’.

    1. It is all very good quality too – I’m sure there are lots of obscure bands from the 70’s and 80’s who deservedly remain unheard, but Numero are really adept at mining the good stuff. And then packaging it in a way that make vinyl perverts like myself aroused.

    1. Thanks Mike – I’ve know idea, she’s not just a medusa though – she’s a mean MF medusa!

      Anyway, enough typing I need to get back to stroking the LP cover …

  1. Wow, you’ve went totally mad for this stuff! I thought about buying Medusa for a couple of days and then decided I couldn’t be arsed. Really liked the Darkscorch comp but don’t know if I really need to go any further than that.

    1. I did, I’m a label slave now. I blame you totally. All the releases are really good in different ways and it makes me happy that somewhere, someone’s strange long-haired uncle is finally getting the credit he was due back in the day.

  2. Been aware of Numero Group for awhile but have yet get anything from them, I do however have another Josefus re-ish and have been trying to get my band to cover ‘I Saw a Killin’ for a while now so I was just talking about these guys! Somethin’ special about those Texas bands…those other records look great too, enjoy!

    1. Hiya, they did have something in the water down there in Texas! That’d be a great cover too. I just can’t get enough of ‘Dead Man’ though, even in broad daylight!

  3. This is completely awesome. I love these old reissues. I’ve never heard of Numero Group Records before, but I’m getting all tingly just looking at these album covers. Medusa and Circuit Rider are peaking my interest. Maybe it’s because I’ve been immersing myself in the bloody, black waters of High On Fire lately.

    Excellent read for a Saturday evening.

    1. Thanks Mr H – man, that Circuit Rider one is twisted – sort of like a hick Jim Morrison on peyote. And as for the velvet sleeve on the Medusa ….

      1. If you didn’t I’d be worried. It looks absolutely stunning. I feel like sacrificing a goat just looking at it. Or at the very least milking a goat and making artisan goats cheese out of it.

      2. My favorite kind of people. Just discovered the Software Label out of Brooklyn. Complete 180 degrees on the music spectrum, but they’re putting out quality sounds with great packaging. Quirky electronic stuff.

        The Numero Group roster would eat the Software roster’s hearts for dinner, but anyways.

      3. I’ll check them out, it sounds good. I’ll support anyone who puts the extra effort in to the presentation of the goods.

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