While the standards of observing proper licensing and master-tape acquisition procedures are generally on the rise at archival reissue labels putting out album-length packages, it's still very much "anything goes" for low-profile operations issuing 7-inch singles. The absence of song publishing credits or a label address is usually a tell-tale sign of what's euphemistically called a "grey area" release, a nicer term for a pirate record or a bootleg.
The fifth single of mysterious origin to appear on the Scorpio Sounds imprint backs Freddie Grant's Hammond-led fuzz funker Soul Sensation with the enchantingly trippy Sputnik by Sidney Owens & the North South Connection, which is among the most in demand psych-funk joints on the planet right now.
Original copies of Sputnik can still be had for cheaper than the $700 that the less exciting No Silver Bird single by the Hooterville Trolley recently drew on eBay. That sizable ticket price is likely why Stoned Circus just issued it with Keith Meehan's slow 'n' sleazy Hooker Street on the flip. The sound quality isn't phenomenal, but you'll save a pile of cash.
Unlikely as it may seem, the Touch and Go label logo was once a dependable trademark of quality, but I must admit it's been ages since the once-mighty Chicago indie put out anything I'd actually want to buy.
So I was pleasantly surprised to discover that they've not only picked up the Crystal Antlers' fantastically freaky self-released EP for distribution, they've actually signed the Long Beach beasts to their Quarterstick subsidiary. Unfortunately, the reissue of the EP has a tamer/lamer sleeve design. On the upside, there should be a vinyl version on the way.
In any case, you'll still get six scorching tracks of demented prog-psych that you'll never believe was produced by Ikey Owens, the Mars Volta keyboard geek. True! Maybe it'll embarrass their lacklustre new labelmates into getting their shit together... or not.
Vexation (Crystal Antlers)
Arcturus (Crystal Antlers)
Most Perfect Duke
Synth pioneer (and Frank Zappa's keyboardist of choice) George Duke recorded his finest and funkiest jazz fusion work for the German MPS label, which have been sadly out-of-print for much of the past three decades. But now that Universal is administering the deep MPS catalogue, they've decided to skip the old routine of issuing one album at a time over a lengthy period and just knocked out the lot, all six of his fusion albums (seven if you split up Solus and The Inner Source) recorded between 1971 and 76, on one convenient four-disc set as part of the Most Perfect Sound Edition series.
The neatly packaged My Soul - The Complete MPS Fusion Recordings box includes complete session notes and credits, an insightful essay by Rolf Thomas and album-by-album recollections by Duke himself, which put the adventurous recordings into proper perspective. Trad jazz fans may see this as another sign of the coming apocalypse, but fusion fanatics, Zappa heads and analog synth lovers will be delighted. georgeduke.com.
Da Somba (George Duke)
Faces In Reflection No.2 (George Duke)