A stellar archival collection uncovered by reissue label extraordinaire Gear Fab, Test Record brings together a group of terribly rare recordings from Canadian band Mock Duck, a deservedly popular draw on the Vancouver ballroom scene due to its arresting musical fusion. The original Test Record was actually just an acetate pressing made of the first five tracks off the Gear Fab CD, only 14 copies of which are know to exist. Those five tracks, along with two of the bonus tracks, were recorded live at the Village Bistro in Vancouver in late 1968. Four of the other bonus songs were off 1968 singles, and the final "Jazz Mock" is a nearly 20-minute jam from the same period.
Better than most, Mock Duck discovered a true nexus between early rock & roll, blues, and exploratory jazz, and they tied those strains into a really exciting amalgam that fit well into Vancouver's developing psychedelic scene . The music certainly has its drawbacks. Rick Enns is only an adequate vocalist, his nasally release (which probably better fit the Dylan slant of the original unit) doesn't create much of a spark at all and is almost devoid of the virtuosic intensity that the music requires. That is no more evident than on the band's cover of "Sitting on Top of the World," one of the few moments on the album when even the band sounds uninspired. The band turns tunes like the 13-minute "Home Mad Jam," the traditional "My Time," and the cool "Jazz Mock" into smoking free-rock with plenty of psychedelic ambience to satisfy the trippy mood of the era.
Rarely, however, is Mock Duck predictable, and their sound is all their own. A creative and individual band, they sound great even outside the context and milieu in which they existed. Although maybe not as inventive as likeminded peers such as Captain Beefheart, Spirit, and Traffic, they are nevertheless a dynamic footnote to the era.