The world of northern soul is littered with tracks that were covered up or mis-titled so that no-one could locate what they were. The practice was common in the early ‘70s at Wigan Casino and Blackpool Mecca where luring people to those nights was paramount. But it was the 1980s when the mystery of Marsha Gee’s ‘Peanut Duck’ came about.
The Dangerous Minds site put its ten penneth in a couple of years back:
“’Peanut Duck’ follows the template of novelty and fad dances like “The Loco-Motion” and “The Twist”—to a point. The unknown female vocalist does explain how to do the goofy dance, but doesn’t go into very much detail, and some of the lyrics are completely unintelligible. It’s also unclear as to what George Washington Carver’s favorite legume has to do with anything. The track really goes off the rails once it passes the 2:00 minute mark, with the singer free-forming it like you won’t believe.”
Indeed it’s a crazy tune, but who was responsible? Discogs reveals that one of the versions released came from Spain but little else, then after a few bootlegged 45s, Rhino released it on girl group box set with these sturdy notes:
“At Virtue Sound Studio in Philadelphia, a mystery girl singer cut “Peanut Duck,” a feverish soul stomper that trailed the Loco-Motion, Mashed Potato, Twist trend. But the track was never released, and Marsha Gee was not the actual singer. The only proof of “Peanut Duck” lay in an acetate discovered by a British Northern Soul DJ who took the disc back to England and released it as a bootleg on Joker Records in the ‘80s. Not wanting his rival DJs to infringe upon his precious find, he christened the unknown singer Marsha Gee (who incidentally had a single out on Uptown Records in 1965). The true voice behind ‘Peanut Duck’ has yet to be revealed. Anyone?”
The mystery rumbles on, but the tune remains.