The best historically-minded music compilations do not simply collect the best of an artist, label, or genre; they amass a backstory and glean a latent humanity in the process. The Numero Group is the best reissue label on the planet for this reason, eclipsing even notable and respectable heavies like Stones Throw's Now/Again and Soul Jazz. Numero consistently gets under the veneer of music, alone, and opens up lives and personalities within the pages of their typically detailed liner essays.
Numero has shown surprising diversity amongst their tasteful reissues - Fern Jones's album, for one, would have not been touched by any other label in this country - making it impossible to simply tag them as "that funk comp label." Skinny-Tie Power Pop meets latter-day 70s Femme Folk meets Deep Soul meets raw Belizian rhythm sections? Even on your shuffled-up iPod, this is a rare blend.
Numero's visual presentation is what sets them apart from exploitos like Tuff City or Collectables; the quality put into their packaging (slipcases!) includes in-depth essays, truly rare & undoctored photos, and enough purposeful white space for a Phaidon Press art tome. I can't tell you how good it looks for an album cover to lack ugly 3D graphics and tasteless "period" fonts.
Numero (along with the afforementioned Now/Again and Soul Jazz) also takes pride in being an ethical label - each of their releases has taken the extra step of keeping the compiled artists and legal right-holders in mind. This is a breath of fresh air for conscientious collectors, who know all too well the often-underhanded practices of the re-issue label market.
Now about this particular CD/LP: "Good God!" is, for my money, the most essential Numero issue to date (and that's saying a lot). When you're dealing with gospel music and its forms - of which this genre is one - respect and context are demanded of those that issue it for the masses. Numero hits a home run here. The artists on this compilation weren't selling out to the devil or the market; they were simply making music for God and their flock, irrespective of religious dilemmas or the trappings of radio classifications. Numero understands this and doesn't try to stir up any unnecessary "God or the Devil?" musicial cliches in its presentation.
Artistically, there is no chaff or ballast here. Some tracks are slightly more gripping than others, but none is skippable. Each, more importantly, is an act of worship: Preacher and the Saints offer hollering, symphonic praise; the Voices of Conquest raise a primal, beat-laden chorus; Trevor Dandy opens his heart with questions about the state of the world around him; the Shackleford Singers belt out gut-bucket family testifying. I could list, song-by-song, the intricities of each of the 18 entries on this CD/LP. I could try to explain how these gospel groups, who employ secular songs and music forms to suit their personal witness, are just as powerful in their own way as the worldly music itself. But frankly, these songs are meant to be discovered and savored by each individual listener.
This compilation is nothing short of five-star essential, regardless of your own personal faith. This isn't just gospel; this isn't just funk(y); this is rapturous, trancendant art that demands attention. Hallelujah.