[8 January 2014]
15-60-75 (The Numbers Band) developed a cult following in the wake of their first album, Jimmy Bell’s Still in Town, in 1976. While they never did find mainstream success, founders Robert Kidney and Terry Hynde (along with early addition Jack Kidney) have kept the band going for more than 40 years. Although Jimmy Bell was reissued in 2000 (on cd for the first time), this latest remaster contains three bonus tracks and is being released both digitally and as a two-LP vinyl set.
The sound on this version of the album is incredibly crisp. Every instrument pops out, from Kidney’s casual bluesman vocals to Drake Gleason’s active bass playing to the three-piece saxophone section. David Robinson’s drumming in particular stands out for its creativity and force, and is nicely augmented on some songs by congas. The album is a live record, recorded in Cleveland on a night when 15-60-75 opened for Bob Marley, which explains why Kidney introduces each song and lets the crowd know that the band only has three songs left and tells them that “we mostly play in Kent.”
Two of the bonus tracks were recorded in the same room as the main album. “Drive” and “Keep A-Knockin’ (But You Can’t Come In)” have similar levels of energy, although the audio isn’t quite as clear. “Who Do You Love” is an outlier, an acoustic blues stomper played by the Kidney brothers with only vocals, guitar and harmonica. But it’s the main album that’s still the big attraction. All six songs hold up extremely well 37 years later. Even the rambling, 11-minute title track feels like a worthwhile expansion of a simple idea, with strong saxophone and guitar solos. Jimmy Bell’s Still in Town is a great record and it’s nice to hear such a well-done remaster of a cult classic.