Sunday, December 13, 2009

Archer Record Pressing Master Numbers: A Number of Names versus Cybotron in the Ever-Confusing World of Record Chronology

Archer Record Pressing began in Detroit in 1965. The original location was 6552 East Davison and after a few years the operation moved to 7401 East Davison where they still press records today. The building is, without question, one of my top 3 favorite places in Detroit. The actual pressing of records is a holy process to me. So the feeling I get walking into Archer must be analogous to that my grandma got when she walked into St. Peter's Basilica.

(this folk art is my Michelangelo)

In it's forty-plus years of operation, Archer has been the go-to for local Detroit labels and musicians self-releasing music. The stuff pressed there dizzys the mind...Sonic Rendezvous Band, Death, Tribe Records, Von Records, Ollie McLaughlin stuff, Touch and Go, Blue Rose Records, Metroplex...I could go on, but I think you get the point. Such a repository of local music history, lore and juju does not exist outside of Hitsville.

Any recording brought into Archer without a catalog number (and occassionally those with one) will be assigned an AR number for internal reference. After seeing these over and over again and realizing that they are issued sequentially, it became evident that if one compiled a large enough list of these numbers, you could feasibly start to date records that were previously undated or in question. So here's my contribution to that process. Any years or dates come directly from Archer invoices of information listed on the label of the actual record itself.


AR 489 - Mandingo #1 (Four Tracks)
AR 493 - King Soul #493 (Gloria Taylor)
AR 665 – Gordoon Records #10011 (Crystal Myth)
AR 724 - Tru-Ba-Dor #724 (Soul Generation)
AR 857 - Demoristic #857 (The Ravins)
AR 884 - Leo #884 (Jay Rhythm)
AR 939 - Gatewood #939 (Alphonso Hamilton)
AR 953 - Magic City #007 (Mad Dog & Pups)(1969)
AR 1074 - Magic City #008 (Soul Tornadoes)
AR 1670 – Mutt Records no # (Detroit Night Riders)
AR 2501 – C.O.G.I.C. no # (Rev. Drayton) 1-24-1972 300 qty, repressed 500 qty 3-27-72
AR 2579 – C.O.G.I.C. no # (Rev. Drayton) 3-27-72 500 qty
AR 2590 – C.O.G.I.C. no # (Rev. Drayton) 4-10-72 1000 qty
AR 2657 – C.O.G.I.C. 1000 qty 5-26-72
AR 2691 – C.O.G.I.C. LP 500 qty 8-22-72, 300QTY 10-24-72
AR 2838 – C.O.G.I.C. LP 300 qty 10-17-72
AR 3271 – C.O.G.I.C. no # (Rev. Drayton) 500 qty 7-16-73 (AR-2657 side 2 re-used as b-side)
AR 3618 – Blackman Records no # (Quixotics)
AR 4132 – Lobo Records no # (Norm Wade and Detroit Gold) 500 qty 3-31-75
AR 4977 – V.F.H.L. Records no # (Herman Harris & Voices of Faith, Hope and Love) (1977)
AR 5726 – Get Down no # (Sahara)
AR 5930 – Big City Record Company no # (R.U.R.) (1980) 7"
AR 6180 – CLC Records no # (Chuck Cole) (1981)
AR 6212 – Capriccio Records P-928 (A Number of Names) (1981) (see#6374, 6344, 6312)
AR 6406 – God's City's Sounds no # (Highland Park Community Choir) (1981)
AR 6591 – Dazia Records no # (Somerset) (1982/83)
AR 7352 – VU Records no # (A-tack) (1986) 12"
AR 7357 – Tripple Star no # (Paul Garrison) (1983) 7"
AR 7390 – E.R.C INC no # (The Eveready Crew) (1986) 7"
AR 7481 – Sims Entertainment no # (Livewire) (1987) 12"
AR 7511 – J.F.I. Recordings no # (KC and Crew) (1987) 12"
AR 7583 – Mack Records no # (Klash) 12"
AR 7586 – Bassment Records no # (Worthy D and the Boys) 12"
AR 7689 – MBE no # (Frinz) 12"
AR 7830 – Ren Sin City Records (K-Stony Jamm) (1988) 12"
AR 7976 – 12th Precinct no # (MC King and DJ Boywonder)
AR 8063 – T.C. Real Records no # (Real'n'Smooth) (1989)
AR 8147 – Pretty City Records (Pretty City Boyz) 1989
AR 8150 – Midwest International no # (Curtis Gadson)
AR 8300 – Frontear no # (the Darkskin Cats) (1990)
AR 8347 – Motor City Records Inc. no # (Fresh Boys) (1990)
AR 8587 – ICUPP Records 001 (Gangster Fun) 7"
AR 8696 – Bass-X Records #0-16389 (A.U.T.H.O.R.I.T.Y.) (1992)
AR 8881 – Monokon Records no # (K.B. and the Fearless)(1992)
AR 8882/9992 – Psychopathic # 1004 (Insane Clown Posse "Carnival of Carnage")

AR-6212 is "Sharevari" by A Number of Names, widely considered to be the first Detroit techno release. Invoice #6212 only lists mastering, processing (plating) and test press charges. The second Detroit techno record, "Alleys of Your Mind" by Cybotron, is invoice # 6237 (invoices and AR numbers are interchangeable, but because "Alleys" had a customer-supplied catalog number of 107034 it fails to have an AR number on the label or its run-out grooves).

The "Alleys" invoice is dated 10-29-81 and gives a quantity of 1000 initial copies, making it literally twenty days after the "Sharevari" invoice. BUT...it seems that actual PRESSING charges for "Sharevari" don't show up until AFTER the "Alleys" pressing charges.

I remember hearing stories about "Sharevari" debuting on-air during the Electrifyin' Mojo radio show and Mojo even giving the group their name. So it's possible (but not necessarily probable) that "Sharevari" was recorded first but languished for awhile before it was actually pressed. In that time it seems Cybotron flourished and recorded their own debut and POSSIBLY pressed it before A Number of Names pressed/released "Sharevari".

There were also numerous invoices (referenced above) that show "Sharevari" being repressed while I didn't notice any subsequent invoices/orders for "Alleys".

Either way, it's fascinating that both of these groups were germinating at the same time, seemingly unaware of each other and their releases being the initial salvo in the blast of Detroit techno. The mechanics of when the songs were recorded, compared to when they were test pressed and/or released is merely insight into a previously undocumented side of it all.

(please feel free to set the record straight, correct, critique or hurl eggs in the comments section)

Disclaimers: None of this information is definite. Most of it is gleaned from records in my personal collection, listings found on eBay, or time briefly spent combing through Archer's old invoices. Some numbers can prove difficult especially if they were repressed later with different label art/years (hence the A-tack VU Records seeming out-of-place that's causing me to pull out my hair). Please feel free to add any records you may have in your collection or have AR numbers for (found either on the label or etched in the run-out groove) in the comments and I will add it to the master list.

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