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Scott Morgan


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Scott Morgan - Scott Morgan - 2010 - Alive Records

Longtime favorite Scott Morgan has a new one out, a mix of originals and great covers (Sam Cooke, Bobbie Gentry, Holland-Dozier-Holland, among others). Morgan has always paid respect to other’s music alongside his own, and as usual he’s chosen wisely and done them justice. Recorded with a crack band of fellow devotees, this new self-titled album is another rock’n'soul testament from a man who deserves to be far better known. He’s Detroit rock royalty, and his kingdom deserves rezoning. Guitarist Matthew Smith, drummer Dave Shettler and bassist Jim Diamond all contributed background vocals and shared production duties on the album, recorded at Diamond’s legendary Ghetto Recorders in Detroit. (Powertrane axeman Chris Taylor is the critical fifth piece; Morgan primarily plays organ and piano.) It’s tight but not pristine; indeed it’s five guys jamming for the shared love of the material getting soulful and wonderful results. There’s probably not a radio format eager to play it and I doubt any of them saddled up with that in mind. I’m reminded of a couple of albums Jon Tiven issued several years ago, which similarly flipped the bird to the naysayers and said “this is for the believers”. Morgan is equally adept at introspective blues as he is with joyous expressions; standouts include “Since I Lost My Baby”. “Memphis Time” and “She’s Not Just Another Woman”. There’s some Stonesey rock, some psychedelic nods, some serious name-checking and most of all an organic and honest feel to the selected songs. I’m not certain how long they spent in the studio but I’ll bet it was relatively quick and dirty, guys looking for the groove and not an Auto-tune in sight. (What a refreshingly ancient concept!) It’s been wonderful to have so many of Morgan’s projects released in the past couple of years. Some new, some long unavailable, work from Sonic’s Rendesvous, Powertrane, The Solution and even The Rationals is now there for the asking. For anyone who hadn’t followed his career it’s an amazing legacy of work that is obviously still chugging along in full gear. While Scott Morgan doesn’t blister like many of his other albums, it will move you. [from & © Dr. Bristol's Prescription · …healing your pop culture problems one day at a time @ http://drbristol.wordpress.com/2010/06/10/new-album-scott-morgan/]

Scott Morgan had the good fortune of being in two of Michigan's most powerful and important rock bands -- in the 1960s, he was the lead singer with the legendary blue-eyed soul combo the Rationals, and in the '70s, he sang and played guitar with Sonic's Rendezvous Band, a mighty hard rock band formed by Fred "Sonic" Smith of the MC5. However, outside the Midwest, Morgan has never received the attention he deserves -- the Rationals' excellent recording of Otis Redding's "Respect" was stopped dead in its tracks by Aretha Franklin's admittedly outstanding cover, and Sonic's Rendezvous Band never scored the record deal they richly deserved, their recorded legacy during their lifetime limited to just one single. But Morgan has never stopped making great music, continuing to perform and record with a variety of groups over the years, and 2010's Scott Morgan (his first proper solo album) confirms he still has a superb voice that can handle blues, soul, and rock with equal assurance while his songwriting chops are in great shape. Scott Morgan teams the singer with a top-notch crew of Michigan rock talent -- Jim Diamond recorded the sessions at his Ghetto Recorders studio and plays bass, while Matthew Smith (Outrageous Cherry, the Volebeats) and Chris Taylor (Mazinga, Powertrane) handle the guitars, and Dave Shettler (the Sights, SSM) was the drummer. The results blend the hard rock power of Morgan's work with Sonic's Rendezvous Band and Powertrane and the passionate soul sounds of the Rationals while conjuring a tough, funky groove that's fresh and strong while rooted in a classic style. The new tunes on the album (written by Morgan and his bandmates) deliver a muscular, big city variation on classic soul archetypes (celebrated in the joyous "Memphis Time"), while his covers of "Bring It on Home to Me," "Do I Move You," and "Something About You" show Morgan can breathe new life into songs that have been in circulation for years, and his reworking of "Mississippi Delta" is nothing short of brilliant. And while the musicians on the album thoroughly deliver the goods, and Smith and Taylor make a killer guitar combo, it's Morgan who carries this show and he does it with grace, strength, and total authority. Scott Morgan has been quietly earning his reputation as one of America's great unsung rock and soul voices for decades, and on this album, he sums up a great deal of what he's learned over the years; it's one hell of a shakedown party, and you owe it to yourself to check it out. © Mark Deming © 2011 Rovi Corporation. All Rights Reserved http://www.allmusic.com/album/scott-morgan-r1756539/review

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. © Michael Toland / The Big Takeover

The manner of this album is as important as its contents. A bunch of originals that sit comfortably with the mix of well-known and less familiar soul tunes is one thing, but its the way they're delivered - self-assuredly and with a loose-tight feel and genuine warmth - makes what might have been merely a very good record into a great one. Soul - generically and actually speaking - has always been at the heart of Scott Morgan's music. It's weaved its way through the sporadic successes and dry gullies of a career stretching back to the mid-'60s. Mutual attraction and his not inconsiderable vocal talents won him billing as the original master of blue-eyed soul. If he had to give a transfusion soul would be his blood type. The band Scott assembled for this record had been backing him as the irRationals, a collection of Michigan like-minds and underground notables whose immediate ambition was to reprise the music of the Rationals, Morgan's original (pre-Sonic's Rendezvous Band) outfit and the subject of the recent "Think Rational!" re-issue. Putting them into the studio and skewing the material more broadly was an inspired idea. Material aside, it's a different approach from the Hydromatics, Morgan's fire and brimstone European-based band, and his hometown-based Powertrane, whose adept mix of soul and road rock was formidable enough. Drummer Dave Shettler's feels suggest more of a groove and lock in nicely with Jim Diamond's warm bass and there's a stronger reliance on backing vocals. It's also nowhere as heavily arranged as The Solution, Morgan's chart action Swedish big band who inexplicably petered out as wider success beckoned. This is the sound of a bunch of muso's who understand the material and enjoy playing it. The casual way "Mississippi Delta" builds, breaks down and then picks itself up again shows as much. I heard the early mixes and of all the songs, it was "Bring It On Home To Me" that didn't do much for me. Sequenced and in its final form, however, it's the way it sonically rolls out of bed, awakens and greets the day that is its strength. If you're tackling well-known covers like "Since I Lost My Baby" you need to bring something fresh to the party and Morgan and Co nail that requirement in all departments. Aside from the previously mentioned members, longtime Powertrane collaborator Chris Box Taylor moves to guitar and relishes the opportunity with some fantastic playing. Matthew Smith alternates between six strings and keys with ease and Morgan sets aside his trust Telecaster to focus on vocals. Eddie Baranek's guest guitar on the band-composed "Memphis Time" adds a fresh tonal twist. Lyrically, it's a tribute to soul music - by someone living in it. © Scott Morgan Band's "Rock Action" album

TRACKS / COMPOSERS

1 Something About You - Holland, Dozier, Holland Jr. 4:08
2 Fallin' for Ya - Morgan 2:27
3 She's Not Just Another Woman - Dunbar, Wilson 3:17
4 Summer Nights - Jim Diamond, Scott Morgan, Dave Shettler, Matthew Smith, Chris "Box" Taylor 3:06
5 Since I Lost My Baby - Smokey Robinson, Warren "Pete" Moore 3:37
6 Lucy May - Morgan 3:00
7 Mississippi Delta - Gentry 4:46
8 Do I Move You - Simone 2:44
9 Memphis Time - Jim Diamond, Scott Morgan, Dave Shettler, Matthew Smith, Chris "Box" Taylor 3:17
10 Bring It on Home to Me - Cooke 3:32
11 Highway - Diamond, Scott Morgan, Dave Shettler, Matthew Smith, Chris "Box" Taylor 3:26

MUSICIANS

Matt Smith - guitar, piano, background vocals
Chris "Box" Taylor - guitar, background vocals
Eddie Baranek - guitar and vocals on "Memphis Time"
Jim Diamond - bass, background vocals
Scott Morgan - organ, piano, vocals
Dave Shettler - drums, percussion, background vocals

REVIEWS

If the former Rationals and Sonic’s Rendezvous frontman had made this record in 1970, blue-eyed soul fans would have swooned when it hit the airwaves. Now, such fans will have to seek it out but the rewards are ample: Powerfully sung rocking R&B on such soul hits as “Something About You,” “She’s Not Just Another Woman,” “Bring It On Home to Me,” and “Since I Lost My Baby.” It takes nerve to sing those songs, and more nerve to place them alongside the original “Fallin’ For Ya.” But the heart of the album comes in the placement of two bold moves side by side, Bobbie Gentry’s “Mississippi Delta” bleeding into Nina Simone’s “Do I Move You.” Morgan’s never sung anything but well, but here, he establishes a new level. © Dave Marsh / Rock & Rap Confidential

Scott Morgan’s band the Rationals never broke out of the Detroit centered Midwest rock and roll scene of the 1960s, but of other regional favorites only Bob Seger got more radio airplay there. Like Bobby Hatfield’s and fellow Detroiter Mitch Ryder’s, Morgan’s is a naturally soulful voice which lent authentic authority to the band’s combination of rock and roll and "blue-eyed soul". Decades later he’s still got the pipes and, choosing the Four Tops’ "Something About You" as his opener, this outstanding disc finds him celebrating his Detroit roots. Morgan’s music is grittier now, shown by the echoes of Detroit strongmen the MC5 and the Stooges in the original "Highway" (check Morgan’s piano) and a take on "Bring It On Home To Me" that reaches revival show intensity. But a glorious, unique but respectfully faithful interpretation of the Temptation’s "Since I Lost My Baby" proves that for the man who once did the same with Chuck Jackson’s "I Need You," "bringing it" is still no problem. © Rick Allen / Blurt

Eleven slices of authentically righteous-sounding late 60’s early 70’s soul; blues, Stax stomp, proper R&B, sweet sweet things to set your soul on fire. Sounds like it has all been beamed in from an eight track cartridge analogue studio somewhere down in the Mississippi Delta or maybe the Motortown, somewhere around 1972, right there hitting the spot just right… © Organ Magazine

Mr. Morgan is one of those legendary Detroit rock’n’soul figures who has played in innumerable amazing bands mostly unnoticed for over 40 years, from the Rationals to Sonic’s Rendezvous Band to plenty of others. Perhaps this album of 1/2 soul and R&B classics and 1/2 excellent originals will be the breakout he’s deserved since forever. Some big names that have been shaping the ‘90s/’00s Detroit sound help out on playing/songwriting/production here, namely Matthew Smith (Outrageous Cherry, The Go!, Slumber Party) and Jim Diamond (White Stripes, Dirtbombs, Detroit Cobras), making for a smooth ‘70s blue-eyed soul sound that fits the songs here perfectly. © SF Underground Radio Examiner

On his excellent new eponymous LP — his first solo album since 1990 — Scott Morgan returns R&B music to the garage, which may not be the only place it belongs when played by white dudes, but certainly provides a nice, safe haven for the musical form when delivered properly. Of course, this is nothing new for Morgan, who’s been doing the same thing with that type of music since the mid-’60s when, as the leader of the Rationals, he scored a major regional hit by garage-ifying (and/or punk-ifying) Otis Redding’s "Respect" long before Aretha recorded her now-legendary version. In other words, Morgan was a pioneer of the form, doing it before it was a conscious and deliberate career choice. (Later, with Sonic’s Rendezvous Band, he’d achieve the same thing with various cover versions. Who, besides Hendrix, could’ve gotten away with covering Dylan’s "Like a Rolling Stone," as that band frequently did onstage?) The lo-fi production that sometimes comes out of Jim Diamond’s Ghetto Recorders studio actually works wonderfully here from the get-go, when the disc opens with a cover of Holland, Dozier & Holland’s "Something About You" (an early hit for the Four Tops). The song initially kicks off with a groove that faintly recalls the Beatles’ "Get Back" before evolving into a primitive riff that resembles early Velvet Underground at its best. Diamond is only one-third of a triumvirate-of-cool production team that includes Matthew Smith and Dave Shettler. That threesome, along with Powertrane guitarist Chris Taylor, also comprise Morgan’s backing band (Morgan, for his part, spends most of his time on organ and piano when not singing lead), with local superstar Eddie Baranek showing up on two of the album’s 11 tracks. Another local musician recently took umbrage to something I’d written that criticized his band for including too many covers on their new album. Truth is, I have no problems whatsoever with cover versions; in fact, I adore them if done correctly. But no one wants to hear a note-for-note copy of a song that’s played on oldies radio every several hours — and that’s why it’s such a joy to hear Mr. Morgan and crew demonstrate how it should be done, as they deliver no less than five covers, and, for the most part, make them work. In addition to the Four Tops tune, Morgan reveals himself to be man enough to cover fairly obscure compositions by Bobbie Gentry (the Southern-fried "Mississippi Delta") and Nina Simone (the pure blues of "Do I Move You?"). But he really prepares to do battle with critics and purists alike on two other very well-known covers — the Temptations’ "Since I Lost My Baby" and, especially, Sam Cooke’s "Bring It on Home to Me." The first just ends up being OK since it really brings little new to the song’s legacy, but its bare-bones production does drive home how much David Bowie copped its intro for his own "When You Rock ‘N’ Roll With Me" on Diamond Dogs. The Cooke song could’ve been even more problematic, however; "Bring It on Home to Me" is the last song the world needs to hear covered again. And yet, with Baranek on second doubled-lead vocal (a role fulfilled by Lou Rawls on the original), the crew transforms it into the most cacophonous (at least its intro) and punk version of the song to date. The originals all hold their own as well. Morgan’s "Fallin’ for You" features an early Stones-ish groove interspersed with Rascals-like brightness, while his "Lucy May," with its "How Many More Times" riff and feel, is sorta Cream meets Zeppelin meets the Hendix Experience, all at their let-down-their-guards, "sloppy," rock ‘n’ roll best. It’s actually uncanny how much the vocalist sounds like Hendrix here … and it’s great. The production team also collaborated on two tracks with Morgan, including the evocative "Summer Nights," which features one of those sinister guitar riffs, complete with a "Respect"-like "Hey, hey, hey!" vocal hook, that immediately drills into your subconscious. And during the cut’s dramatic bridge, Morgan sounds positively Mitch Ryder-ish, albeit Ryder in his prime. Best of all, though, is "Memphis Time," which celebrates that city’s grand musical tradition with name-checks (from B.B. King and Elvis to the Stax label’s Memphis Horns) and joyous music that’s basically yet another variation on "Shout" (a song and hook that’s so timeless, Green Day still uses it in concert to demonstrate how many memorable tunes have been derived from that single Isley Brothers classic). Baranek’s blaring punk-rock guitar throughout the song, especially when "dueling" with Morgan’s vocals, is incredible, giving the archetypal melody that added spark. The original riff was taken from gospel music in the first place and, as such, the song — especially with its added punk rock element — is almost guaranteed to make the listener feel as fine as early incarnations did when the music was promising heavenly salvation to religious types. In a word, it’s ecstatic — something that could be applied to this entire very fine disc. © Bill Holdship / Metro Times

You can’t help but love this! Michigan garage rock legend Scott Morgan emerges with a new album nearly fifty years after forming his first band! Not only that, but aside from appearances on other bands’ records, the occasional single and scattered band projects, this marks Morgan’s first album under his own name! While not a happening on par with a new XTC album, let’s say, Morgan has always been a card-carrying flag-waver for all that is special and right about primal rock and roll and for him to produce a full album on a label with such a great rep as Alive at this point in his career is astounding. I mean, at the age when most rockers either decide to hang it up or just coast by doing “stunt” albums with others songs and high-priced guest stars and “high concepts” Morgan has put out an album doing what he has always done best – high octane garage rock with a little psyche, a little pop and a whole lotta R&B and soul. This could be the beginning of a new stage in his career, and what a career it has already been! © The Rock & Roll Report

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. The group backing Morgan is notably impressive and features Matthew Smith (guitar, piano), Chris Taylor (guitar), Jim Diamond (bass) and Dave Shettler (drums). © Martin Bandyke / Detroit Free Press

BIO

Scott Morgan is one of the major and enduring figures on the Michigan rock scene, forming his first band well before the British Invasion helped sparked the '60s garage rock explosion and still playing tough, soulful rock & roll nearly 50 years later. Born in Ann Arbor, MI, Morgan came from a family of music fans, and after he caught the music bug as a child his parents bought him a guitar and he learned to play, first inspired by instrumental acts like Lonnie Mack and the Ventures. While attending Forsythe Junior High, Morgan struck up a friendship with fellow student Steve Correll, who also played guitar, and in 1962 they decided to form a band. Steve's brother came up with the name the Rationals, and when a local high-school student named Bob Pretzfelder agreed to play drums, the band had its first proper lineup. By the time Morgan and Correll had moved on to Ann Arbor's Pioneer High School, Bill Figg had replaced Pretzfelder, and when Steve's parents decided to send him to military school for a year, Terry Trabandt became the group's new guitarist. Correll returned to Ann Arbor and Pioneer High by 1964, and with Steve back on guitar and Terry on bass guitar, the classic lineup of the Rationals was in place. Influenced by the new sounds of British acts like the Beatles and the Kinks and the emotional power of soul and R&B, the Rationals were one of the Midwest's first great blue-eyed soul combos, fueled by Morgan's powerful vocals, and after hooking up with manager and producer Jeep Holland, they became one of the most popular acts in the state, sharing stages with many of the biggest names of the day and cutting a handful of regional hits for Holland's A-Square Records label, including a 1966 version of Otis Redding's "Respect" that predated Aretha Franklin's cover. Cameo-Parkway picked up "Respect" for nationwide release, and their version of the Goffin/King classic "I Need You" won them a short-lived deal with Capitol Records, but as the Rationals began embracing a harder sound and emphasizing the guitar interplay between Correll and Morgan, they parted ways with Holland. The band moved from teen clubs to psychedelic ballrooms, and in 1969, after Morgan turned down an invitation from Al Kooper to join Blood, Sweat & Tears, the Rationals finally recorded their belated debut album. But by the time it was released in 1970, the bandmembers were at odds with one another, and when the album proved to be a commercial disappointment, the Rationals called it quits. Within a few months of the Rationals' breakup, Morgan and Trabandt formed a new group called Guardian Angel; the band didn't last long, and Morgan next formed a combo called Lightning. In 1973, Morgan cut a solo single, "Take a Look" b/w "Soul Mover," that featured Fred "Sonic" Smith of the MC5 on lead guitar; it marked the beginning of a collaboration with Smith that would lead to the formation of Sonic's Rendezvous Band in 1975. Arguably the best rock band to never cut an album, SRB featured Morgan and Smith on guitars and vocals, Gary Rasmussen of the Up on bass, and Scott Asheton of the Stooges on drums. The group took the high-energy sound of the MC5 as a starting point and made it both leaner and more muscular; SRB earned a passionate following in the Midwest for their electrifying live shows, but without record label interest the band wasn't able to take its local success to the next level, and in 1980 the band broke up after releasing just one single, with the song "City Slang" on both sides. (Eventually the group became a legend among fans of high-energy rock, and a number of posthumous releases of live tapes and demos have appeared, most notably a six-disc box set released by Easy Action Records in 2006.) After the breakup of Sonic's Rendezvous Band, Morgan formed the Scott Morgan Band, featuring Rasmussen and Asheton on bass and drums; after cutting an album for a French label, the group evolved into Scots Pirates, with Morgan trading off vocals with Kathy Deschaine and playing off a rotating lineup of guitarists, including Brian Delaney, Bobby East, and Michael Katon. (In 1991, before Scots Pirates got off the ground, there was a short-lived Rationals reunion; recordings of the reassembled band appear on the Morgan collection Medium Rare.) After Scots Pirates released a pair of albums for the Michigan-based Schoolkids Records label, Morgan joined the supergroup Dodge Main, which also featured Wayne Kramer of the MC5 and Deniz Tek of Radio Birdman; the short-lived combo released an album for Alive Records in 1996. In 1998, Morgan met up with Nicke Royale of the Swedish hard rock band the Hellecopters; a big fan of Sonic's Rendezvous Band, Royale suggested a collaboration, and he and Morgan formed the Hydromatics, whose 1999 album Parts Unknown paid explicit homage to the high-energy sound of Michigan's golden age. Morgan and Royale have also worked together in another international combo, the Solution, rooted in the sounds of classic soul and R&B and putting Morgan's vocal talents to excellent use. In 2001, Morgan crossed paths with Robert Gillespie, a talented guitarist who had worked with Rob Tyner, Mitch Ryder, and the Torpedos; after Gillespie played on some studio recordings with Morgan, the two clicked and formed Powertrane with Chris "Box" Taylor (Mazinga, the Avatars) on bass and Andy Frost (Hydromatics, the High Rollers) on drums. A series of shows with guest guitarists Deniz Tek and Ron Asheton of the Stooges were documented on the 2002 live album Ann Arbor Revival Meeting, while their first studio album, Beyond the Sound, was released in 2007. In 2009, Britain's Big Beat Records released a two-disc collection of the Rationals' recordings for A-Square Records, Think Rational!; to celebrate the release, Morgan did a series of live shows with a group of Detroit musicians he dubbed "the Irrationals," playing material from the Rationals' songbook. Several members of "the Irrationals," including Matthew Smith, Jim Diamond, Chris "Box" Taylor, and Dave Shettler, joined Morgan in the studio to record the 2010 album Scott Morgan, his first proper solo album in a recording career spanning five decades. © Mark Deming © 2011 Rovi Corporation. All Rights Reserved http://www.allmusic.com/artist/scott-morgan-p107397/biography

3 comments:

A.O.O.F.C said...

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guinea pig said...

Thanks!In our country St. Val is not popular, but today is the day of celebration of wine which is close to old Dionisio days.
Cheers with glass of red wine!

A.O.O.F.C said...

Hi,GP (Numero Uno!). How are you? Here's to Bacchus! Glug! Glug! Cheers! TTU soon my friend!