Numero Group – the top purveyors of obscure yet irresistible pop, rock, soul and beyond – kicks off 2015 with a January 20 release from Chicago’s Universal Togetherness Band. The self-titled release (Numero No. 057) will arrive on CD and vinyl, and as a digital download.
The label has explained the story behind frontman Andre Gibson’s Universal Togetherness Band. Between 1979 and 1982 – a time of sweeping change for R&B, with lush disco ceding to lithe, electronic sounds – the group “tracked unearthly portions of their sprawling songbook for bewildered students in Columbia College’s audio engineering program. Storming the gates of Chicago’s premier recording studios, the erudite party band explored permutations of soul, jazz-fusion, new wave, and disco with little regard for studio rates or the availability of magnetic tape.”
Universal Togetherness Band features eight tracks from the five semesters of recording undertaken by the group and the student engineers, all newly remixed from the original multi-tracks. Gibson and the Band had their finger on the pulse of R&B, touching on new wave and disco styles as they offered uptempo slices of funk like “Ain’t Gonna Cry” and “Real Thrill,” the lithe rhythms of “Taken by Love” and the driving “My Sentiment,” and the sleek fusion of “Try, Try, Try.” These eight loose, spirited tracks are bold, bright and infectious; “Once in a Lifetime” oozes positivity while “Call for Love” (enhanced by prominent jazz flute) and the mid-tempo pop groover “I Want You” are two of the romantic and lusty tracks here.
The gatefold LP edition of Universal Togetherness Band includes reproductions of never-before-seen images from the archives of Chicago photographer Steven E. Gross. The CD edition features several candid snapshots from the group members’ own archives.
This isn’t the last you’ll hear of the Universal Togetherness Band on Numero. Another track from the Band, 1981’s “Pull Up,” will be available on Numero’s forthcoming Ultra-High Frequencies: The Chicago Party CD/DVD or 2LP/DVD compilation. Watch this space for more details on that set; a release date hasn’t been confirmed, but some sites are currently accepting pre-orders for a March 3 arrival.
In the meantime, you can order the smooth, funky and criminally unknown sounds of the Universal Togetherness Band at the links below!
- Ain’t Gonna Cry
- Real Thrill
- Try, Try, Try
- My Sentiment
- Once in a Lifetime
- Taken by Love
- Call for Love
- I Want You
All tracks previously unreleased.