Numero 015 | Eccentric Soul: The Prix Label (The Numero Group)

cd_numero15Nobody in Columbus remembers them, but for two minutes and forty seconds they become amazingly familiar. It's unpolished, but it's from the soil, and the soul. And it's wonderful.

 

 

 

 

In the darkest corners, under layers of dust and neglect, lie the most incredible musical monsters – songs that make eyes open, and jaws drop, and ears fiend for more. They're born in settings equally hidden – in makeshift studios in weird parts of town, made by the kinds of people who'll travel to a weird part of town, just to sing. It's in these places though that the purest creativity thrives. It's clueless, and it's unorganized. And it's raw, and it's organic, and more often that not, it's absolutely brilliant.

Our dark corner is a garage sale shoebox marked "Best Offer," and our makeshift studio stood at 921 Broad Street, Columbus, Ohio, circa 1970. The heroes of forgotten vinyl, The Numero Group have shined their flashlights back on Columbus, this time to the Prix Label and its Harmonic Sounds Studio. The studio would produce its fare share of those musical monsters, beautifully untainted, soul with no impurities. And as spectacular as they were the day they were made, it would take forty years and a garage sale for them to see the light of day.

And so we have Numero 015: Eccentric Soul: The Prix Label, a compilation of records few have ever heard, born in a studio where an uncontaminated creativity prospered. While Prix itself would never prosper, the collection of 45's it would release are a magnificent little blip on soul's dark radar.

The compilation leads off with the thumping horns and drums of Eddie Ray's "Wait a Minute." The most dynamic song of the lot, "Wait a Minute" would never make it past the studio, thought to have no popular appeal and not be worth the cost of production. Ray appears several more times, including "You Are Mine," the most stunning moment of the collection. It's Ray, and a guitar and a hint of a Congo drum, and the interaction is so perfectly simple and unpolished that it reeks of this splendid rawness. Joe King appears with "Speak On Up," classic soul music. And then there is "You And Me" by Penny & The Quarters, the owners of my favorite band name of all time. Nobody in Columbus remembers them, but for two minutes and forty seconds they become amazingly familiar. It's one guitar, and a few voices. It's unpolished, but it's from the soil, and the soul. And it's wonderful.

Most of the musicians who walked into 921 Broad Street probably knew they would never make it big, and they were right. But as you listen to them sing, you can hear something in their voices that suggests that they don't actually care. They're there to unleash their voice, and their song, and this desire to create, and if in three years anybody remembers their name, so be it. These are the people who make music music. To all of them, thank you. And to Numero, thank you for introducing us. | Sam Levy

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