Album cover

Eccentric Soul

The Shoestring Label

Operating in a basement studio at the confluence of the Mississippi and Missouri rivers, pipeline man Howard Neal and his appropriately named Shoestring label was Alton, Illinois’ answer to a question no one asked. Pressed in minuscule numbers and barely outside the 62002 zip code, the singles by The James Family, Jimmie Green, Pete & Cheez, and Carletta Sue are prime examples of cosmic midwestern disco in search of a break. This heavy weight 10-song LP is housed in a tip-on sleeve, and includes an essay and imagery that complete the picture of this pure expression of small-town soul.

On March 1, 2004, Numero issued the first volume of our long-running Eccentric Soul series. The Capsoul Label was our first foray into the world of regional soul music, and over the next twenty years we issued nearly two dozen volumes, documenting such far ranging locales as Wichita, Kansas, San Antonia, Texas, and Norfolk, Virginia, and labels named Deep City, Twinight, and Way Out. These parallel soul universes were filled with endless replication: the Berry Gordy phenotype, the James Brown archetype, the Temptations chromosome, copied and mimicked and mutated into a thousand forms. When a true hit made its big splash, Eccentric Soul was that very last ripple.

To commemorate two decades of Eccentric Soul, Numero is issuing eight new volumes. As we began in Ohio with Capsoul, we’ll do so again with Tony March’s Youngstown-based Tammy concern. We’ll head back to Miami and finally deal with Frank Williams’ wildly collectable Saadia imprint. Abe Epstein’s San Antonio powerhouse Cobra gets the treatment, as does Lenny LaCour’s Magic Touch, and Mel Alexander’s sprawling Consolidated Productions (with each of these getting a sequel in 2025!). Even Howard Neale’s micro-indie Shoestring has been dissected and highlighted for the stunning work he was able to achieve from his Alton, Illinois, basement. A wildly deep collection of recordings made at Sauk City, Wisconsin’s Cuca will finally see a vinyl pressing, as will The Tragar & Note Labels, and a boil down of our Omnibus 45x45 box set for those that missed out on that now-$1500 doorstop.

Track List

  1. The James Family We've Got It Made
  2. Jimmie Green Let Yourself Go
  3. Pete & Cheez You and Me
  4. Howard Neal and Friends A Broken Heart Will Mend
  5. Howard Neal Disco Fever
  6. Jimmie Green Dance
  7. Pete & Cheez So Smooth
  8. Carletta Sue You Keep Holding Back On Love
  9. Jimmie Green I Need You So
  10. Howard Neal and Friends You're All The Woman I Need
  11. The James Family Radio Promo