Asked about reissue label the Numero Group, Syl Johnson, the Chicago soul singer who logged a series of mid-level hits in the late ’60s and early ’70s, was forthright: "They’re excellent," he said. Anyone who knows anything about Johnson will be floored by this confession. Simply put, Johnson is one of the more notoriously cantankerous figures in Chicago soul music, harboring a sharp disdain for anything that even vaguely resembles the music industry. Yet when it comes to the label that meticulously collected much of his classic work in a 2010 box set called Complete Mythology, Johnson is effusive. "Listen. Let me explain something to you," he said. "How the fuck you gonna remember what you said 40 years ago? I mean, you can't remember the first word you said to me today. The brain is like a big-ass computer. There's shit up in there you just can’t quite put together. But Ken and them did a lot of research. They talked to my sisters, they talked to everybody that they could. I mean, I didn’t know that I made a guitar out of a broom handle when I was, like, five."
That attention to detail isn’t only accorded to better-known figures like Johnson. Since it was founded in 2003, Numero has focused mostly on the also-rans of the music industry - great artists who suffered from unfortunate setbacks and regional superstars with just one or two hits to their name - using crate-digging sensibilities to tell the stories of relative unknowns and to unearth, reclaim and champion long-forgotten bodies of work.