When Rob Sevier, Ken Shipley, and Tom Lunt began Numero Group, the Chicago-based label specializing in archival compilations of rare and obscure (and mostly soul) artists, the trio’s original vision was to simply create a 10-disc, 20-artist collection of lost soul 7” 45-rpm singles and call it Eccentric Soul. While in pursuit of a particular single recorded at Columbus, OH’s Capsoul Studios, the three befriended and gained the trust of label owner Bill Moss. That friendship not only got them their much sought after single, Johnson, Hawkins, Tatum & Durr’s “You Can’t Blame Me”, but also opened the door to a flood of rare and lost recordings from Capsoul Studios.
The original 10 7” set was scrapped and replaced with Eccentric Soul: The Capsoul Label, a full-on compilation devoted to this small label that released just a dozen 7” and one LP. A decade and 48 releases later, 14 of which are a part of the Eccentric Soul series, Numero Group has figuratively returned to that original stack of 10 7” with Eccentric Soul: Omnibus, Vol. 1, the “mother of all rare 45 compilations.”
Described as “a tangled mess of loose ends”, Omnibus is a collection of 45 7” 45-rpm records representing lost gems that, for one reason or another, couldn’t find a home within earlier compilations. Baton Rouge’s 13th Amendment, with their mission to “abolish musical slavery”, deliver a deep-soul ballad in “Hard To Be In Love”, backed with “The Stretch”, a tight jam that evolved out of warm-up for the group’s horn section. The Soul Walkers’ “Can I Say It Again” practically rips off the Jackson 5′s “I Want You Back” and “Just Jammin’” backed with “After We’re Gone (The World Keeps Turnin,)” by Free Mind is some of the grooviest sounds ever to come out of Milwaukee. The soul music within covers a wide range, from those following the Brownian archetype to those trying to capture the sweet, smooth sounds of Gordy’s Motown and Gamble & Huff’s TSOP and everywhere in between.
Housed in a custom 45-box vinyl-wrapped carry case that comes in one of 19 color combinations, the collection includes 45 7” records all with replica labels and a 108-page cloth-bound hardcover book complete with liner notes, rare photographs, various indexes that allow a search by artist, club, label or studio and a digital download. Numero has achieved a reputation for quality both in content and in presentation and Omnibus certainly lives up it, raising the bar such that I can’t imagine what they have in store for their second collection.
Essential Tracks: Third Generation’s “Mother Nature”, Hot Snow’s “Four Times the Love”