Jimmy Bell's Still In Town
Chris Cutler, Recommended
Don't know about the NME but by God, they frightened me. You have to go to a small city in America to see a band with this much intensity and this much professionalism: 20 years in the same bar needing to keep a regular public's attention - intimacy with the material; an unfakeable elision of reality and entertainment.
Joe Cushley, Mojo
15-60-75 are one of the few outfits to have stamped generic R&B with an original seal. Leader Robert Kidney has performed with The Golden Palominos but, since 1969, The Numbers have been his primary concern. On this debut - a live recording from 1975 - one catches strains of Santana and The Doors in their polyrhythmic blues effusions - but there is also a deeper, more esoteric imagination at work. Kidney is a Van Vliet on the distaff side, or a less hung up David Byrne. His heady, poetic, lyrical marinades are spiced with harmonica from Southside heaven - and horns which can't quite decide whether they're playing a Stax revue or a free jazz freak-out. You will not be disappointed."
Links and Background:
Numbers Band website • Reviews • Facebook
Other recordings: The Inward City, Nobody's John single, Here In The Life single.
For 30 years, in a small town 40 miles south of Cleveland, Ohio, The Numbers have kept the blues alive. Where the guardians of the form starved it of innovation, 15-60-75 nurtured abstract evolution. Where the priests of Budweiser Blues droned old catechisms by rote, 15-60-75 aspired to vision. They play blues reimbued with meaning, purged and purified by flame, shorn of every superfluous moment, sound or word. Because their songs are compiled across a series of markers - words, sounds, phrases and pauses-- they don't count measures and can't outline the structure of their own songs to an outsider. For the blues, a form routinely approached as a compendium of formulas, this is startling, and it means that any change of personnel necessitates months of not just relearning but rewriting every song. It is a methodology from another planet - Don Van Vliet and Sun Ra come to mind. It is form dedicated to vision.
Pere Ubu's David Thomas re-released the album in September 2000 on his Hearpen label to celebrate the group's debut in England. The German label Glitterhouse immediately fell madly and deeply in love with it and arranged to license the release in Europe and the UK. (Bomba released it in Japan and Hearpen handles the distribution in Benelux).
Glitterhouse's press release reads as follows,
"This album is different. Way different from everything you'd expect from being released on Glitterhouse, but as well as from any other label: "The only good album ever recorded by anyone" says David Thomas and he knows what hes talking about. The "Numbers Band" (as they called themselves) perform at the highest, most energetic level. It's urban Blues on Amphetamines, it's groovy to the max and on the spot as well. Recorded live in 1975, this group consisted of two guitars, bass, drums, percussions, vocals and three (!) saxophones. Kicks ass as if Defunkt would jam with Cpt. Beefheart, War and MC5. A storm.
Recorded live at the Agora, Cleveland OH, June 16 1975 by John Nebe, Agency Recording Studio.
All songs written by Robert J. Kidney, Jr., ©1976 Kiderton Music; except "Jimmy Bell" which is written by Cat Iron, ©1958 Folkways Records and Service Company.