Steve Byrd, known to his friends as “The Birdman,” was a songwriter and arranger, given to stomping around in cowboy boots and feathered ten-gallon hats, flouting his university degree in music composition. “[Steve] was beyond weird,” said Phillips. “He was brilliant. As a matter of fact, I think he was brilliant to the point where he verged on insanity.” That insanity found expression in Byrd’s Michigan Avenue Sound Orchestra, arguably the most over-the-top act ever handled by Bandit. Almost nothing is known about the group or its single, so it’s likely to have been a Steve Byrd studio creation rather than an actively gigging band. A 1977 release, “Poon Tang Thump,” the Orchestra’s only output, burned through two sides of a 45, offering an epic, multipart instrumental funk suite that took its cues from Isaac Hayes, Superfly, and the soundtrack soul of the Blaxploitation era. Like “Ghetto King,” it certainly never hit the big screen, nor too many turntables; in classic Bandit fashion, only a handful of copies of “Thump” are known to exist today.

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