sonics rendezvous band - The I-94 Bar

Space Age Blues - Sonics Rendezvous Band (Easy Action)

space age bluesI originally heard this new release in its raw format three years ago now and was surprised by the laidback feel of it….wow, Sonic’s Rendezvous Band playing a front bar pub type of gig to 25 people….how cool to have seen that? I didn’t even know they did that sort of thing

There’s plenty of on/off stage banter, some jamming and tune ups; it was a nice surprise and refreshing to hear a recording of one of my favourite bands playing in a different situation and early on in their development. This recording joined some of the dots in the band’s history (no they didn’t just appear out of nowhere as this blindingly amazing live band – it took years and plenty of gigs) and fleshes these guys out as players.

"Revolutionary Action" to trace Scott Morgan's post-SRB years

revolutionary-action-largeTracking the post-Sonic’s Rendezvous Band career of Detroit’s rocking rhythm and blues man, Scott Morgan, gets a little easier next month with the release of three of his solo band albums on a double CD.

UK label Easy Action (who else?) will release the “Scots Pirates”, “Revolutionary Means” and “Rock Action” LPs in re-mastered form as “Revolutionary Action” on October 20.

The 38-song collection will be encased in the usual top-shelf packaging with a bonus cut, the hard-to-find cover version of Jimi Hendrix’s “Can You See Me?”

Detroit - Sonic’s Rendezvous Band (Easy Action)

real-detroitWhat do you think we’d say? Sonic’s Rendezvous Band was truly The One That Got Away. It’s a crime they weren’t signed, recorded and backed to the hilt by a major label and elevated to a household name, but rock and roll is seldom fair. That’s why you need to hear everything you can of this great lost band.

Never heard outside a small circle of alumni and fans, this short but sweet five-song set comes from the January 14,1978 show, on the undercard to the Ramones and the Runaways at the Masonic Temple in Detroit. Maybe.

The opening act was un-billed and surviving band members (that would be Gary and Scott) can’t agree that they played it. All but one song (“City Slang”) has remained in the vaults and the label thought it had issued the gig as part of its splendid box set. But that disc wasn’t even from one entire show, if that makes sense.

He also served: Gang War drummer John Morgan and life in the trenches with Johnny Thunders and Wayne Kramer

gang war on stageGang War at Second Chance in Ann Arbor in 1979.  Sue Rynski photo  

It’s said the drummer in a rock and roll band has the best seat in the house. It’s given John Morgan his unique perspective on some of rock and roll’s most talented, fascinating and sometimes flawed characters. 

Now living in Ventura, California, John Morgan’s spent half his life as a professional musician, playing with a long list of blues and jazz bands. But it’s his insights into two in particular: Gang War and Sonic's Rendezvous Band - the former as a partcipant, thw latter as an observer - that will hold the most interest for I-94 Bar patrons. 

Hydromatics albums being re-birthed by Easy Action

hydromatics dangerousHere's huge news for fans of Sonic's Rendezvous Band. The first re-issues from The Hydromatics’ back catalogue on UK label Easy Action are ready for pre-order.

The Hydromatics were a ‘90s trans-Atlantic supergroup of sorts, fronted by Scott Morgan (Sonic's Rendezvous Band, The Rationals) and reprising material by Sonic’s Rendezvous Band, as well as fresh originals. Their original line-up included Nicke Royale of Sweden’s Helllacopters and Dutchman Tony Slug (The Nitwitz) and they toured Europe extensively.

This is a band that had power to burn that shone a fresh light on Sonic's Rendezvous Band by doing justice in the studio to material that we'd only heard on dodgy bootlegs. 

‘The Hydromatics” is a re-mastered CD version of the group's debut record, “Parts Unknown”, with a stack of live tracks.

“Dangerous” is a LP (with free CD) of studio versions of Sonic’s Rendezvous Band classics like Asteroid B612, Electrophonic Tonic and City Slang. The 10-track LP is supplemented by “Do It Again”, “Mystically Yours” and “Power and The Glory” on the bonus CD. Get them here.

 

 

Into Lightnin' - Guardian Angel (Easy Action)

guradian angel coverLong spoken of and heard by few, this batch of tapes documenting the short but worthy lifespan of Scott Morgan’s post Rationals band Guardian Angel (later known as Lightnin’) has seen the light of day at last. It’s a righteous addition to a starry back catalogue.

Joy Ride - The Seat Belts (Super Torque Records)

seatbeltsWhat is it about Michigan rock bands releasing debut albums 30 years after they were regularly working the live circuit? The Ramrods did it a few years back and The Seatbelts, now well and truly reformed, continue in the same vein. Contemporaries of the similarly non-prolific Sonic's Rendezvous Band, they've unleashed "Joy Ride" onto an unsuspecting public with rock and roll seemingly in its death throes. Maybe, just in the nick of time.

Medium Rare - Scott Morgan (Real O Mind)

mediumrareThe last non-sellout in a line of powerful, soulful, R&B-influenced rock singers from the '60s, Scott Morgan's had a lot of notoriety the last few years, since the world of Rockdom at large belatedly discovered the joys of Sonic's Rendezvous Band, the late-seventies Dee-troit "supergroup" that he fronted in tandem with (and later in opposition to) ex-MC5 guitarist Fred "Sonic" Smith.

Revolutionary Action – Scott Morgan (Easy Action)

revolutionary actionIn which the complete recorded works of the 1980s and ‘90s are compiled on one double CD set, spanning 38 tracks.

You have to give it to Easy Action. They know how to package a legacy. And Scott Morgan, of course, has had lots of legacy to restore.

Michigan’s Best Kept Musical Secret had been around the metaphorical block a few times by the time the ‘80s rolled around, but up until that point his bands hadn’t produced many recordings. If he hadn’t invented blue-eyed soul, Morgan played a big part in its arrival in the '60s when front-man for Ann Arbor’s Rationals who took a detour into soulful, pastoral-flecked psych before running out of steam. 

Scott Morgan - Scott Morgan (Alive Naturalsound)

scottmorganaliveAfter the run of great records with The Solution, Powertrane and The Hydromatics, Scott Morgan thought it was time to make a solo album. Thus the former singer and guitarist of the legendary Sonic's Rendezvous Band (and even before that, The Rationals) gathered around him some of the most respected musicians of the Motor City and pulled out an album that oozes black music and emotions out from every note.

Scott Morgan back on the boards with The Sights

corktownThe legendary Scott Morgan (The Rationals, Sonics Rendezvous Band, Hydromatics) continues his return to the stage in stunning form and will play another gig with The Sights in Michigan in November.

Pre-orders have opened for his latest re-issue on Easy Action

Scott Morgan back to serious gigging, new album

scott-morgan-darkAfter serious ill-health, Detroit rock and soul legend Scott Morgan (The Rationals, Sonic’s Rendezvous Band) is returning to regular live shows with a new album in the throes of being written.

Morgan fell ill with liver disease a couple of years ago but has undergone extensive treatment. He still needs to manage his health but has bounced back this year to play a couple of shows with the well regarded soulful rockers The Sights as his backing band.

Sonics Rendezvous - Fred “Sonic” Smith (Orchide-Detroit)

sonic soloThe loudest sound you’ll hear on this is the bottom of the barrel being scraped.

The intentions were probably sound. Assembling a collection of previously unheard works-in-progress by the man who was a driving force in rock and roll’s most criminally under-recognised band makes perfect sense. 

Provided the raw material you have is bountiful and of premium grade. 

It wasn’t and it is not.

Things are heating up as The Fools re-emerge

fools dylan
Guitarist Dylan Webster from Newcastle band The Fools

In the early ‘90s, raw and tough rock and roll was supposedly being re-birthed. Grunge had ushered in The Year That Punk Broke and the mainstream was finally embracing music that wasn’t safe and bland. Yeah. Right.

In reality, Real Rock and Roll was still fighting. The tidal wave that was the MP3 was about to arrive in earnest but the only game in town, as far as The Industry was concerned, was Grunge, a sludgy offspring of heavy metal and punk that promised little and (mostly) delivered less.  

Too harsh?  A lot of fine and worthy bands were trampled under the rush by major labels to sign any act with tuned-down guitars wearing flannelette shirts. It didn’t matter if their songs mostly remained the same; the big label A & R men couldn’t see past their own shaggy fringes.

Like Newton used to say, every action produces an equal and opposite reaction. In Australia, a fresh wave of high-energy acts like Powder Monkeys, Asteroid B612, Brother Brick, the YesMen and Bored! were kicking against the pricks and doing things their own way. A lesser light from the industrial port city of Newcastle, two hours north of Sydney, created their own ripples.

Three Chords and a Cloud of Dust - Scott Morgan (Easy Action)

scott-morgan-3-chords-boxYeah, it's obvious that this has been a long time coming. Compiler and Real O Mind Records chief Geoff Ginsberg toyed with the idea of a Scott Morgan box set and put a version together - as a one-off for friends - many years ago. But now the real deal's here, with the involvement of Ginsberg as compiler and UK label Easy Action honcho Carlton Sandercock as issuer, and you'd be a fool to miss it.

Transmission – The Volcanics (Citadel)

volcanics transmissionThis one’s an excuse for a trite throwaway line like: “Rock is back”, right? Because that’s what a mainstream music publication would do. Well, fuck that. You can use the fingers of a one-armed man to count the number of Aussie music mags that would give “Transmission” anything more than lip service - and you’d still have digits left over. The Volcanics deserve better than that.

This Perth band has been doing the hard rock thing since the early half of last decade - mostly in and around their hometown (although they're on their way to Europe soon.) There’s only one man standing from the original line-up (that’d be singer Johnny Phatouros) but the vision has been consistent throughout. They’re all about delivering straight-up, high-energy rock and roll that goes for the throat. Simple in theory but not easy to pull off without coming off like a re-heated and inferior version of your influences. Which “Transmission” is not.