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V/A - Eccentric Soul: Twinight’s Lunar Rotation

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Artist: V/A

Album: Eccentric Soul: Twinight’s Lunar Rotation

Label: The Numero Group

Review date: May. 4, 2007

A recent show at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York exhibited the photographs taken by Harry Burton during the discovery of King Tut’s tomb in 1922 and the subsequent removal and cataloguing of its contents. Howard Carter, the archeologist responsible for the expedition, marveled at the treasure trove of “wonderful things” last glimpsed in the 14th century BC. While Burton’s camera captured the objects themselves, its greater focus was men in the ecstasy of discovery. The objects themselves pale in comparison to the story of the expedition – the thought of being there. The endless sarcophagi, jewelry and canopic jars are wonderful for a while but, really, most viewers will only be able to appreciate them as a source of wonderment.

With the sprawling two-disc Eccentric Soul: Twinight’s Lunar Rotation, the prolific Numero Group seems to have arrived at the point where the expedition outshines the treasure. The label, which has released a steady stream of lost soul gems and other carefully curated rarities salvaged from junk bins, basements, and flea markets – the tombs where records are buried – culls here the songs a hit-maker named Syl Johnson decided would never be hits. The typically lavish booklet contains a detailed history of his label and an exhaustive story of these thrown away tracks.

While the Egyptians buried their dead to ensure their place in the afterlife, the fate of most records is far more mundane – they land in junk bins because they are junk. While Lunar Rotation contains its fair share of blissful moments and choice rare grooves, over the 40 tracks the collection starts to feel more like the indiscriminate catalog of an expedition: of value mostly to those interested in genre artifacts, formal deviations and time capsules.

The lead track, Stormy’s “The Devastator,” is an overly precious “I Heard It Through the Grapevine” rip-off with careless mixing and clumsy back-up singing. Sidney Pinchback’s “Soul Strokes,” is an awkward mix of “Green Onions” and deep fried funk. On these and other songs there are plenty of minor revelation – amateurs locking into perfect rhythms, stumbling upon golden melodies, and showing their surprise – but the overall impression is of an expedition outshining its yield.

By Alexander Provan

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