Scott Morgan, founding member of the Rationals and Sonic's Rendezvous Band, is in impressive form on his self-titled release (***, Alive). There's no arguing with Morgan's mix of soulful, blues-drenched originals and well-selected cover tunes, including the Four Tops' "Something About You" and Sam Cooke's "Bring It on Home to Me."
My favorite new Scott song is Lucy May about Scott's Great Aunt who died at 18 years old. Scott wrote the song and it has a special meaning to me.
The group backing Morgan is notably impressive and features Matthew Smith (guitar, piano), Chris Taylor (guitar), Jim Diamond (bass) and Dave Shettler (drums). Scott Morgan and his band, the Irrationals, will perform at a CD-release party at 8 p.m. July 9 at the Magic Bag, 22920 Woodward, Ferndale. 248-544-3030. $10. Advance tickets available call the box office.
With MY FRIENDS Tino and The Howling Diablos.
Tino Gross and Johnny BEE
Review of Scott's New Record:
For decades, singer/guitarist SCOTT MORGAN has earned his reputation as one of Detroit’s longest standing power rockers, proudly waving the flag for the proto-punk/hard R&B hybrid pioneered by the MC5, BOB SEGER and his own 70s combo (with FRED SONIC SMITH) SONICS RENDEZVOUS BAND. But people forget that he began in the 60s with the RATIONALS, one of the country’s most potent blue-eyed soul bands that was just a hit single away from rivaling MITCH RYDER, a side most recently explored with the Swedish band the SOLUTION. With the Rationals’ legendarily rare recordings finally starting to see the light of day (cf. last year’s two-disk set Think Rational), Morgan drew members from Motor City stalwarts OUTRAGEOUS CHERRY, MAZINGA and his own POWERTRANE to make up the IRRATIONALS, promoting his old music. As is so often the case, the musicians decided to head into the studio and make some new music, the result of which is Morgan’s latest, self-titled LP.
Allegedly the aim was to craft the ultimate Scott Morgan LP, and while it remains to be seen if that’s the case, the record is definitely a strong one. While there’s no mistaking that this is a rock & roll album, it draws most of its strength from Morgan’s taste in R&B and soul: SAM COOKE (“Bring It On Home To Me”), NINA SIMONE (“Do I Move You,” given a psychedelic blues reading), JERRY BUTLER (“Since I Lost You Baby”), the FOUR TOPS (“Something About You”), the Motor City’s own EIGHTH DAY (“She’s Not Just Another Woman”), even BOBBIE GENTRY (“Mississippi Delta”). Morgan and his buds follow suit with originals like the bluesy “Lucy May,” the groovy “Memphis Time,” the funky “Summer Nights” and the soulful “Fallin’ For Ya.” The band dips into the straight power rock bag for “Highway,” the album’s only obvious nod to Morgan’s SRB work.
Given stripped-down, guitar-based arrangements and clear but not slick production, Morgan sings with rough-hewn control, stopping short of wailing but not stinting on passion. Transcendence never quite arrives, but it seems just around the corner, which for a singer of Morgan’s caliber is still pretty damned fine. Some more Detroit crash-and-roil a la SRB would not go unappreciated next time, but it’s still great to hear Morgan refurbishing his rock & soul roots.
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