Courtesy of The Numero Group
Chicago soul artist Syl Johnson saw his entire discography reissued by the Numero Group record label in 2010.
Chicago soul artist Syl Johnson saw his entire discography reissued by the Numero Group record label in 2010. Courtesy of The Numero Group
My shelves are filled with original albums from the 1960s through the present day, so a reissue had better be damn good if it's going to fit between an original Solar press of Lula Cortes and Ze Ramalho's Brasilian psychedelic masterpiece Paebiru and the solid, mid-'70s funk of the Turner Brothers' Act 1 (on the Brothers' MB label, of course). Or at least that's what I tell myself to keep the small Los Angeles house I share with my wife from turning into the next episode of Hoarders.
While 2009 added a small, excellent trove of African reissues to the racks — as well as a few well-packaged American and Middle Eastern albums — 2010 was, by comparison, empty. I'd heard rumors that the great Ghanaian guitarist, composer and arranger Ebo Taylor would be feted with a thorough anthology. By the end of the year, hopes dashed, I found myself spending hundreds of dollars on original copies of his rare albums on eBay — and returning to Soundway's crucial 2009 Ghana Special. The fact that Ghana Special hasn't left my car's seat pocket in a year says something about the quality of 2010's crop.
That said, it wasn't hard to pin down five albums as must-haves for music fans of all ages and backgrounds. I've purposely left off major-label releases like the fine West Coast Seattle Boy: The Jimi Hendrix Anthology so as to focus on smaller, passion-driven imprints. And I've left off the murky Iranian and Turkish bootlegs that have flooded the market in the past year. As interesting as they are — and I bought them all — I hope they inspire a generation to seek out the original artists, or their heirs, and properly document the musical heroes of those hard-to-penetrate '60s and '70s scenes.