Various Artists
Eccentric Soul: A Red Black Green Production
Numero Group

At this point, I shouldn’t have to tell you about all the good records the Numero Group has released or how they’ve unearthed countless treasures that heretofore never got the appreciation they deserve. Still, it bears repeating, as what is truly remarkable is that they’ve continued to do so with the same level of quality. You would think that they would eventually exhaust their archeological bounty, but so far that hasn’t been the case, with one release seemingly always leading to the next dig.

You may remember last year’s uncovering of a lost album by DC funk outfit Father’s Children. That album had been recorded with R. Jose Williams, who not only worked as producer for major label acts like Gil Scott-Heron, Van McCoy and Hugh Masekela at the regal Edgewood Studios, but also did work with a number of smaller acts in his homemade studio at his parents’ house in Silver Springs, Maryland. These recordings were done for a number of regional imprints, but some of this work never saw the light of day. That is until, like so many times before, Numero Group stepped in.

The tracks on the Red Black Green Production (the name Williams gave to his home recording operation) entry in the Numero’s Eccentric Soul series were all recorded by Williams in the mid-70s, but were either never issued before or culled from various singles and full-lengths. Given Williams’ expertise, it’s not surprising that the sound is top-notch, enabling each act on the compilation to sound their best. The fact that most of these groups never had much of an impact certainly couldn’t be contributed to lacking recordings, that’s for sure. Williams wraps The Exceptions, who conjure a vocally led sound reminiscent of The Delfonics or The Stylistics, in rich tones, while he gives “Phoney People” by Father’s Children a sonic punch to emphasize the funk. Throughout the compilation, it is clear Williams expertly complimented each act with whatever it was their particular sound required.

Not every act here was doomed for obscurity, however. Skip Mahoney & The Casuals managed to make it on to a major label, and their talent is apparent on the topical “Town Called Nowhere.” Of course, Father’s Children also got signed, releasing one record with Mercury. But it’s hard not to dig The Promise, who recall the Jackson Five, or The Summits, who, despite never going anywhere, had enough resources to lace their funky sound with strings on “Sleepwalking” and “Let’s Do It Over.” Or who knows, maybe that was Williams’ doing. There’s not too many specific qualities that connect the seven acts that combined contribute the 19 cuts here other than Williams, but it is surely to his expert ear that we can attribute their uniform excellence.
Stephen Slaybaugh