Today, the 11-time Grammy-nominated Numero Group gives new life to thousands of unearthed recordings and a vast collection of compositions from a series of unsung artists and record labels that have existed far ahead of the times for the past six decades. As the culmination of 15 years of work in some cases, Numero Group announces the acquisition of master recording and publishing catalogs from the endlessly sampled Chicago soul staple Syl Johnson, all 2,200 masters and compositions released by long-running Wisconsin label Cuca Records, the masters and publishing for 120 albums from Dick Sutphen's 1990s new age and meditation label Valley of the Sun, as well as the publishing and master agreement for the complete catalog of Boston rock pioneers Karate. Numero Group has also renewed their publishing administration deal with the principal songwriters of Durand Jones & The Indications, including Aaron Frazer, Blake Rhein and Durand Jones.
Read more about the deals in an interview with Billboard. On the formation of Numero's new partnerships, and the light the Chicago-based company continues to shine on overlooked musical heroes and genres, Co-Founders Ken Shipley and Rob Sevier say:
"Our digital releases and curated playlists are exploding across platforms, and the possibilities for more compelling artist and label partnerships are expanding to match this success. Our fascination with the artists, musicians, songwriters, and entrepreneurs of the old music business continues to grow alongside these larger, increasingly more complex stories that need a new, sturdier framework to tell the stories and take care of the people behind them. In parallel, our success in synchronization licensing has allowed us to expand into contemporary repertoire including the best American soul ensemble, Durand Jones & The Indications & Aaron Frazer. Their work fits perfectly next to the iconic soul music of Syl Johnson, Pastor T.L. Barrett, and Harvey Scales."
Since its formation in 2003, Numero Group has committed itself to excavating and reintroducing precious lost sounds for brand new audiences, channeling their intense research, wild ideas and unparalleled ear for potential into herculean box sets, playlists, and stunning new artifacts of music history. In a recent expansion from revered reissue label into a holistic rights management organization, tailor made for the 21st Century, Numero has launched songs and artists from complete obscurity to tens of millions of Spotify streams, TikTok trends, syncs in Netflix series, samples in hip-hop hits and far beyond.
Numero's relationship with Syl Johnson began a decade and a half ago, and under the new acquisition the company will illuminate the soul singer and session guitarist's masters and compositions from 1962-1971 and 1980-1987, two prolific eras that include widely sampled songs like "Is It Because I'm Black" and "Different Strokes." As the self-proclaimed "most sampled artist ever," Johnson has been heard in tracks by Eric B & Rakim, Ghostface Killah, Jay-Z, Kanye West, Public Enemy, Wu-Tang Clan and more. RZA says, "There are many great soul singers, but few have inspired hip-hop, from its early beginning to now, as much as Syl Johnson."
The 2,200 masters and compositions that Numero has acquired from Cuca Records feature songs like Birdlegs & Pauline's "Mist of a Dream," Earl Hooker's "Dust My Broom" and The Fendermen's "Mule Skinner Blues." Founded by Jim Kirchstein in 1959, Cuca's work was originally guided by a mission to capture the musical talent of rural Wisconsin, but quickly grew from a tiny studio in the corner of a record shop to a diverse institution attracting artists all across the Midwest. Numero Group's partnership with Cuca Records follows 15 years of work, and in November 2021 Numero will release Driftless Dreamers In Cuca Country, a double-album compilation covering an array of Cuca's radical folk music and more.
With 120 albums from Californian new age label Valley of the Sun, Numero Group will showcase founder Dick Sutphen's belief that humanity's biggest problems could be solved by harnessing positive human potential, and that mass communicating messages of "peaceful planetary transformation" was the path to achieving higher consciousness on a global scale. While the label's early catalog consisted of spoken-word hypnosis tapes, it evolved into its own sonic dimensions that featured meditation experiences from musicians of all styles, including David Naegele, Robert Slap, Steven Cooper, Upper Astral and more. Numero will release a double-album compilation of Valley of the Sun standouts in January 2022.
In 2021, under their new deal with Karate, Numero Group began digitally releasing all seven of the band's LPs and five EPs. Emerging out of the DIY and alternative rock boom of the mid-1990s, Boston's Karate gripped a national youth movement with enigmatic music that was equally inviting to sneering punks and highfalutin indie-rock aficionados. As part of their long term lease of both the publishing and master agreements for Karate's complete catalog, spanning 1993-2006, Numero will also repress the band's self-titled album, In Place Of Real Insight and The Bed Is In The Ocean on LPs out in September 2021.
In addition to the aforementioned acquisitions, Numero Group recently announced I Shall Wear A Crown, the definitive five-album box set capturing the complete musical output of Chicago's living gospel legend, Pastor T.L. Barrett. The collection is out September 24th, and the label is also planning a 2022 box set of Blondie recordings from their legendary 1974-1982 run, a 25th Anniversary edition of Unwound's seminal Repetition, and more.
About Numero Group
In the growing noise of the so-called reissue field, The Numero Group remains distinct in its quality: deeply researched, expertly resuscitated and lavishly packaged box sets, playlists and ephemera of historic music from the 1950s-1990s. Founded in Chicago in 2003 by Rob Sevier and Ken Shipley, for more than 15 years Numero has committed to unearthing precious lost sounds for new audiences, with an unparalleled ear for potential and spirited eye for detail. With hundreds of titles in their diverse catalog of LPs, CDs, cassettes, 45s, 12-inch singles and playlists, each Numero production illuminates the often herculean efforts of individuals who sang, played, recorded and peddled their art to little fanfare in its day. Through intense research and wild ideas, these songs find new life in streaming, lovingly-packaged media and placement in film and television. By self-imposed law, everything assembled by Numero is a stunning new artifact of sound, image and word.