Five Must-Have Numero Group Releases

Hive Five: Our Daily Listicle of Musical Musings

In 2003, crate diggers Tom Lunt, Robert Sevier, and Ken Shipley launched a record label. Their idea? To put the masses onto all types of previously unreleased music where the label owners themselves have to travel across country and physically dig out the tunes they want to make public. Nine years later, and the Numero Group has become the world’s best archival record label, reissuing everything -- from ‘70s disco tracks, early ‘80s dance grooves and previously hard-to-find jazz compilations. Without question, the Chicago imprint is a go-to place for music junkies. Here are its five must-have albums.

1. Father’s Children, Who’s Gonna Save The World

By the time listeners got its first taste of Father’s Children, it was on the ill-fated 1979 single, “Hollywood Dreaming,” which came across a bit too glossy for those familiar with the D.C. band’s gritty aesthetic. Six years earlier, Father’s Children captured a downtrodden feel on Who’s Gonna Save the World, a nine-song recording of forceful soul music. The group lamented Watergate and urban blight with a desperate candor. It’s a shame the album didn’t drop until 2011.

2. Alfonso Lovo, La Gigantona

Alfonso Lovo was shot several times by Sandinista rebels who hijacked his flight from Miami in December 1971. After five years and several surgeries, the musician released La Gigantona, on which he experimented with light jazz and expansive island rhythms. Think Santana meets Fela Kuti.

3. Pisces, A Lovely Sight

The Numero Group doesn’t drop much psych-rock, but in 2009, the label unearthed A Lovely Sight, the grungy 1969 release from Pisces, an obscure Rockford, Ill., trio that emulated the era’s hallucinogenic melodies. The results were haunting and somewhat disjointed.

4. Various Artists, Soul Messages From Dimona    

At one point, it was considered sacrilegious to mix gospel with anything other than organs and stilted piano keys. Yet on the ambitious Soul Messages from Dimona, the Soul Messengers, Spirit of Isreal, Sons of the Kingdom and Tonistics delivered spiritual themes atop free-wielding compositions.

5. Antena, Camino Del Sol

On this 1982 recording, French-Belgian band Antena opted for a cool pop aesthetic, from its breezy instrumentals to the sun-bathed patio furniture on its cover. All told, Camino was tribal, yet restrained. When the Numero Group found this, it had a sticker price of just 99 cents. Go figure.