On the record



Niche reissue labels' success shows it pays to go retro

Every so often, you get a reminder that bright sparks still exist in the record label business. Everyone knows about interesting labels such as Glassnote or XL, who continue to find new bands, groom them for greatness and send them on their way.

Yet there is one niche area of the record business that rarely gets much attention and that appears to be in rude health.

The reissue business is the one which increasingly catches the eye. Labels such as Light In the Attic, Soul Jazz and Numero are consistently releasing excellent compilations and retrospectives which receive critical acclaim, and, obviously, enough sales to keep the show on the road.

Light In the Attic will mark a decade in business this year and they can point to how they’ve found new admirers for acts such as Rodriguez, Lee Hazlewood, Karen Dalton, Jim Sullivan and Wendy Rene. They’ve just reissued D’Angelo’s Voodoo, one of the great r’n’b albums of recent times.

While the majors are also to the fore in catalogue-pimping and repackaging what’s in their vast archives in the hope of fresh sales, these bespoke specialist labels take a different approach.

In the case of Chicago’s Numero, also marking their 10th birthday this year, they’re focusing on niche releases and minor labels that no-one else is targeting. Be it great rare grooves from Belize or a re-evaluation of the work of people such as Catherine Howe and Willie Wright, Numero is always bang on the money.

While the focus on new music is always to be applauded, these reissue cats show there’s also cash to be found by doing some digging in the crates. Perhaps it’s time for more domestic reissues like last year’s Strange Passion set of Irish post-punk and new wave nuggets.

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For more see irishtimes.com/blogs/ ontherecord

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