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THE NUMERO GROUP

As progenitor and contemptuous poster boy for the music that came to be Cosmic American, Gram Parsons found himself mired in a recording career spent mostly in scouting the perimeters of chart success. “He hated country-rock,” Parsons collaborator Emmylou Harris would later reflect. “He thought that bands like the Eagles were pretty much missing the point.”

Parsons had been orbiting the idea of Cosmic American Music for some time. In ‘68, he’d parted ways with the Byrds and was looking to take air with a new project. “It’s basically a Southern soul group playing country and gospel-oriented music with a steel guitar” he told Melody Maker, on the subject of The Flying Burrito Brothers. So it was that when A&M’s Burrito Brothers debut 'The Gilded Palace Of Sin' made it to shelves in February of 1969, early adherents to the Cosmic American gospel were already echoing its message from areas flanking Gram Parsons’ Southern California hills and canyons.

There was FJ McMahon in coastal Santa Barbara, Mistress Mary further inland in Hacienda Heights, and Plain Jane of Albuquerque, New Mexico, each responding by committing their own private readings to tape before for day one of the 1970s. Parsons himself might’ve disdained them, had he even been aware of such minor ripples, shimmering at the edges of his desert oasis. But these were true believers all the same, given over fully to his roots music concept, each filling vinyl grooves with non-rock instrumentation like fiddle, banjo, and pedal steel guitar, the last undoubtedly Cosmic American Music’s most distinguishing stringed signifier. Only too predictably, big labels did the grunt work of confining and defining the movement, as ABC, United Artists, RCA, and more played catch-up with Asylum’s raptor rock juggernaut, via backwoods crossover also-rans with names like Gladstone, American Flyer, and Silverado. Twang reigned, the shit-kickers kicked shit, and the vaguely western-sounding guitar records piled up. Country-rock became “the dominant American rock style of the 1970s,” as Peter Doggett’s comprehensive Are You Ready For The Country put it much later. 'Wayfaring Strangers: Cosmic American Music' picks up and dusts off golden ingots from the dollar-bin detritus of that domination, to reconstruct events as seen from the genre’s real Wild West - America’s one-off private press label substructure. 


STAFF COMMENTS

Barry says: It's no surprise that Numero have come up with the goods on this one, swooning country mixed with cosmic psychedelic atmospheres and impeccable songwriting. Winner.

Various Artists

South Side Story Vol. 23

    THIS IS A RECORD STORE DAY 2014 EXCLUSIVE, LIMITED TO ONE PER PERSON.

    For the lowriders, the souleros, or just anyone with a still-working CD player in their hooptie and a penchant for driving with even a slight gangster lean. Numero pays tribute to the aftermarket sounds of “sweet” soul music still emanating from the West coast, or East Side, depending on your perspective. Inspired by, and paying tribute to the countless cruising compilations, legitimate and (mostly) otherwise, that provide the soundtrack for lowrider and soulero culture, South Side Story is the latest in the Numbero line of takes its aesthetics from the timeless East Side Story series, and its music from Chicago soul groups (mostly, of course, from our mythic South Side). Included here are songs that are completely unreleased, others that are never before issued other than in minuscule pressings on 45, and a few chrome-coated classics, already seen on scads of flash-in-the-pan boots. The Numero Group’s crack team of researchers cut loose on the city of Chicago to assemble the perfect lowriding companion, and the results are unparalleled. From high school rivals The Si-Berians and The Intentions, who both feature their sole recordings here, to unheard material from the original Calvin Harris, to the elite Latino ensemble known as The Mystics, to the missing link in “sweet-as-sugar” Renaldo Domino’s lonely post-Twinight recording, this dazzling collection slices out a delectable cross-section of the city’s sweetest sounds. 13 perfect “souldies” as they are occasionally called, allowing you to throw away any of your many volumes of Gangster Soul Harmony, Lost Soul Oldies, East Side Story, Hood Dreams, Shady Side of Town (or any of the thousands of other similar iterations)

    Inspired by the infinitely numbered harmonies transmitted by Vista, a benevolent being from a distant dimension, Iasos broke ground for a new age of electronic sound manipulation. His was pioneering work - done from a bohemian boat-slip home office - on some of the first commercially available synthesizers and, on stage, into the kaleidoscopic heart of psychedelic-era concert visuals.

    As life-affirming and attuned to spirit as Iasos' soul portraits were, prestigious psychology departments heard in them the tones humans hear at the precipice between life and death. Before ambient and New Age were so named and codified, the "Paradise Music" of Iasos (represented here by 13 selections transmitted between 1975 and 1985) brought Earth - transcriptions of a vast and galactic soundhealing to a planet much in need.


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