After years of medical tribulations, Scott Morgan is taking the next step in his return to active musical duty. The former Rationals, Sonic's Rendezvous Band, Hydromatics, The Solution and solo band artist with a career spanning five decades releases his first new album in seven years this month, the stellar "Rough and Ready" (Rouge Records).
Backed by The Sights, his band of choice on recent live outings, Morgan emphatically returns to his blue-eyed soul roots, laying down 10 songs of righteous beauty and grandeur.
Co-written with Eddie Baranek of The Sights and recorded by Jim Diamond at Ghetto Recorders and Adam Cox at Hamtramck Studios, it's a refreshingly pure album and a reminder of why Morgan has long been regarded one of the best rock and soul voices in the business. We asked Scott to walk us track-by-track through "Rough and Ready". The photos are by Marian Krzyzowski.
Who knows if there was a pitch to the label? If there was, it probably went something like this: Find a gap in powerpop troubadour Paul Collins’ crazy schedule, put him in the studio with garage production king Jim Diamond and the house band for Detroit’s Ghetto Recorders, give them a cases of beer and let the music flow.
Collins (The Beat, the Nerves, The Breakaways) writes perfect rocking’ guitar pop like hipsters steal oxygen. It’s in his DNA; he has equals but there’s nobody better. A good proportion of these songs would be mainstream hits in a more enlightened and less disposable time.
Drone and fuzz are the base ingredients in this psychedelic stew from Sydney four-piece Gridning Eyes. The sound is thunderous and heavy in the mid-range, with no compromise to melody. Delicate harmonies are in short supply.
Grinding Eyes have been around for three years and have two singles on prodigious boutique Brisbane label Tym Records. This is their long player debut (on CD through Off The Hip) and it’s an exacting but rewarding trip
Recorded by Owen Pengilis (Straight Arrows), and mixed (in France) and mastered (in Detroit) by sonic wizard Jim Diamond, these are nine songs of dark, relentless assault.
This Parisian band brags they’ve been “playing garage-blues-punk since 2003” and that’s no mean feat in a city where rock and roll gets simultaneously downtrodden by dance music and high culture.
Two more things in their favour is that they’re on Beast Records, a well-established home for music that flies a ragged freak flag, and “Memories From a Shithole” was produced by expat Detroiter Jim Diamond, the ex-Dirtbombs bassist and sonic master now spending much of his work-time in Montpellier. His credits include the Bellrays, the Fleshtones and the White Stripes so he’s qualified to make this sort of noise.
Whodunit aren’t your standard ‘60s acid punk rehash or two-chord crash-er-rama thrash artists. They don’t play second-rate Serge lounge tunes or bother trying to de-construct the blues. They just go for broke.
It’s a split album from two French bands on a label from Lille in the north of France, which is one of those old industrial cities that's cast off its blue collar for a suit and tie. Like many of those gentrified European cities, punk rock clings to life - an even thrives - in reduced circumstances.
The Denyals make crunchy punk rock and sound like a cross between the early Clash and Husker Du - slowed right down. They're a three-piece devoid of any trimmings and they use drop-outs to good effect. Errein's impassioned vocal and jagged guitar are splattered all over the six songs.
The savage "Disco Boy" and stuttering opener “Valentines (I Love Your Head)” are the real stand-outs. Errein's guitar sounds like the bluntest of surgical instruments on "My Sweet Swedish Things".
Johnny Casino albums are a treat for the converted and a revelation for those less fortunate. If you’re one of the latter, “Trade Winds” is as good a place as any to start.
It’s been way too long between records for Johnny - both this album and its predecessor "Time and Time Again" are old recordings woodshedded for later release - but well worth the wait. The big fella from Sydney’s Northern Beaches makes Spain his home these days, where he plies his dual trades of tattooing and playing music.
“Trade Winds” was recorded before he emigrated a couple of years ago with a crack band in North Fremantle, Western Australia. Drummer Warren Hall (The Volcanics, Datura 4, The Drones), a longtime Casino sideman, joined with Martyn P Casey (Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds /The Triffids/Grinderman) played bass. That’s as fine an engine room as you’ll find.