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"The Inward City" is the latest album from 15-60-75 (aka The Numbers Band), a group that can claim among its enthralled fans musicians as diverse as Frank Black, Chrissie Hynde, Pere Ubu, The Black Keys, Bob Mould, Devo, and anglo-progressive legend Chris Cutler.
"The Numbers Band is the greatest band I've ever seen, will ever see, and can ever conceive of seeing," wrote Pere Ubu's David Thomas. "You have, of course, no reason to believe me." So he offered a money back guarantee of satisfaction for anyone buying 15-60-75's first album, Jimmy Bell's Still In Town (Hearpen HR112). In 6 years there have been no takers. When he brought the band to London in 1998 as part of a 3 day festival he curated at the Royal Festival Hall women were weeping in the aisles at the end of their set.
For 40 years, in a small town 40 miles south of Cleveland, Ohio, The Numbers have kept the blues alive. Where the guardians of the form starved it of innovation, 15-60-75 nurtured abstract evolution. Where the priests of Budweiser Blues droned old catechisms by rote, 15-60-75 aspired to vision. They play blues reimbued with meaning, purged and purified by flame, shorn of every superfluous moment, sound or word. Because their songs are compiled across a series of markers - words, sounds, phrases and pauses - they don't count measures and can't outline the structure of their own songs to an outsider. For the blues, a form routinely approached as a compendium of formulas, this is startling, and it means that any change of personnel necessitates months of not just re-learning but rewriting every song. It is a methodology from another planet - Don Van Vliet and Sun Ra come to mind. It is form dedicated to vision.
The line-up of 15-60-75 consists of Robert Kidney (guitar, vocals), Jack Kidney (harp, sax, vocals), Terry Hynde (sax), Bill Watson (bass) and Frank Casamento (drums). Produced by Pere Ubu's David Thomas, The Inward City is available as a download from iTunes and www.hearpen.com and on cd from Hearpen Records.
Robert Kidney (guitar, vocals) formed the band in 1969 in Kent, Ohio, a small college town between Cleveland and Akron. Two founder members of the band, brother Jack Kidney (harp, sax, vocals) and Terry Hynde (sax, flute), remain in the line-up to this day. The band established a residency at a blues club in Kent and soon gathered a large and fanatical following, among them nearly every musician who would form the nucleus of the extraordinary Cleveland / Akron underground scene of the 70s.
In 1975 they recorded the live record, Jimmy Bell's Still In Town. Dogged by unnatural bad luck and mishap every time they tried to play out of town the band soon gave up bothering and was not to leave the Northeast Ohio area for decades, settling into residencies in the blues clubs of Cleveland, Akron, and Kent. A speakeasy in Youngstown is still the scene of many of their greatest nights.
In the 80s Robert became a regular in Anton Fier's Golden Palominos band projects, recording and touring along side Michael Stipe, Richard Thompson, Syd Straw, T-Bone Burnett, and finally John Lydon and Jack Bruce.
Robert and Jack's side project, a duo called The Kidney Brothers, toured twice in the UK and twice in Holland between 1997 and 2000.
In the late 90s and early 00s Robert and Jack Kidney featured in David Thomas' theatrical production, Mirror Man, which toured in the UK and had premiere performances at London's Royal Festival Hall and Los Angeles' Royce Hall. Soon thereafter Jack Kidney recorded on Frank Black's "Rider Man" album and performed with him on the Conan O'Brian Show.
Robert Kidney was the subject of a feature article on the cover of the Wall Street Journal (January 20 1999) in one of their series of portraits.
Recently Terry Hynde's sister, Chrissie, recorded one of Robert's songs, "Rosalee," for the Pretender's "Break Up The Concrete" album.
Produced by David Thomas.
Engineered by Paul Hamann.
Recorded and mixed at Suma, Painesville OH.
Package design by John Thompson, www.idrome.net.
Robert Kidney - vocals, guitar
Jack Kidney - harp, guitar, sax, Hammond B-4, vocals
Terry Hynde - sax
Bill Watson - bass
Frank Casamento - drums