Living in The Age of The Reissue offers a variety of benefits for the musically-minded person. Now, you can get to know Carl Perkins in the same way that the public at large knew Elvis Presley back in the day. The constraints of what is popular now no longer dictate the kinds of music we are familiar with, in spite of sales figures, the proliferation of music videos (distributed through whatever means is popular at the time), or even their inclusion in TV and film. The Age of The Reissue liberates us from the stale conformity of Top 40, and allows our musical dollars the chance to flow in obscure, seldom traveled paths, and in many cases, offer us a chance to excavate the past in a way that was never previously thought possible.
It is with this in mind that The Numero Group persues their catalog. This will not come as a surprise to any of the moderate-to-late-stage Collectors out there; anymore, a well-rounded collection demands at least a passing familiarity with their releases. Which is why when something like this Alternate History collection comes along, it is important to take notice. This is not merely a casual compilation of old musty 45s, nor is it a sort of Sampler Collection that allows you a chance to “get to know” The Numero Group. In fact, the title really does say it all: this compilation allows the listener to experience An Alternate History of Popular Music, taking us from 1959 (with the invention of the blues by a woman named Niela Miller), all the way to 1985, the year that disco died with this swan-song track by Golden Echoes. If those names aren’t familiar to you, don’t worry. The music in between is just as – if not moreso – unheard of.
The beauty of The Numero Group releases is their careful selection. While the artists may be unfamiliar, these tracks embody the zeitgeist of the era in a way that feels entirely appropriate. You can picture this history unfolding, as black artists dominate the charts, while later white artists integrate into this form of music. A world where funk and soul were the standard pop tunes to arrange yourself around, and where gospel is even more tied to mainstream culture than ever… through music. It is all here, and it is a fascinating document of what could have been. And that, in and of itself, is the primary benefit of living in The Age of The Reissue: experiences like this are possible. The Numero Group understands that collectors are not merely obsessive compulsives with an eye for small pressings and imported vinyl (though that may be the case, too). In collecting, we ourselves are assembling a musical universe all our own, where certain artists loom larger than others, according to our own vision of Popular Music.
In this collection, you can sit back and listen as someone else’s musical universe assembles before your ears. How cool is that?