Scott Morgan Review – Feb 2015 by Colin Bryce

Scott Morgan

Revolutionary Action (Easy Action)

I first heard of Scott Morgan and his band the Rationals back in the late 70s. It was around this time too that he had become part of, what I consider at least, the greatest rock quartet ever to emerge out of the Detroit/Ann Arbor scene – the mighty Sonics Rendezvous Band.

As it happens a good buddy of mine happened to run into Scott at a party in Los Angeles in the late 80s and made sure to grab his contact info. A year or so later I ended up moving to southern Ontario, Canada and lived a mere fifteen minute drive to Detroit and a further forty-five minutes to Ann Arbor. Once we had settled it wasn’t but a minute before I was scouring the local rags for news of Scott’s gigs and then used my connection to contact him and get directions and info to the first show I could attend. I must admit to being pretty dang nervous phoning up one of my long-time musical heroes at home and asking for directions! They couldn’t have been more helpful.

The first Scott Morgan Band album Rock Action (included here) had been out for a year or so before I made my move but that was largely the material his band at the time – which included Gary Rasmussen and Scott Asheton from Sonics Rendezvous band as well as guitarist Brian Delaney and vocalist Kathy Deschaine – were performing. The volume and guitar driven vibe of Sonics Rendezvous was for the most part absent in favour of a stronger focus on the songs themselves. Long-time Morgan favorites like Johnnie Taylor’s “Hijackin’ Love”, his own incredible “Josie’s Well”, “16 with a Bullet,” “Pirate Music” and Rendezvous Band era “Heaven and Earth” sound as fresh now as they did back when they were recorded and performed by what was then known as the Scott Morgan Band. Kathy Deschaine’s back-up vocals (and occasional lead) complimented Scott’s gravelly tone nicely and the music itself should easily have found its way into regular rotation on radio in the US. Sadly it didn’t. It certainly didn’t stop me and countless other local fans to pack his shows and rave to our friends and families about Scott and the band’s talents however.

It was around this time too (1991) that the original Rationals line-up reunited and then collapsed and re-configured into a bigger, badder, bolder and hornier monster. I went to every one of those gigs I could and they were incredible. By the time the re-vamped line-up of the Rationals had called it quits Scott’s band (now renamed Scot’s Pirates) had a new album ready to roll on the tiny Schoolkids label out of Ann Arbor. When not doing Rationals gigs the Pirates line-up had been doing shows with the new material regularly showcased. Great tracks like “Dante,” “Running Away” and “First Step” were sure-fire showstoppers. Add to that covers of the Dynamics’ “Misery” (Who fans will know the “Zoot Suit” rip) and “I’m the Man” and you’re doin’ alright. Just before I moved back west I attended a gig Scott was playing in Greektown. He laid a promo cassette of the Scots Pirates album on me and I played the beejeezus out of it until the CD finally arrived in ’93.

In 1995 Scott and the Pirates released the mighty Revolutionary Means, again on the tiny Schoolkids imprint out of Ann Arbor. Guitarists Mike Katon and Bobby East lend their rockin’ hands here and the album is definitely a heavier, darker affair than the previous two. Cover versions of Jimmy Johnson’s “I Need Some Easy Money” and Ike and Tina’s “You Got What You Wanted” easily out-do the original versions in my opinion and Morgan’s own “88” (a tribute to a local Ann Arbor station) is another one that Scott’s fans rate highly in a back catalogue of tunes and recordings most artists would love to call their own.

This double-disc set from Easy Action includes the three albums recorded as Scott Morgan and Scots Pirates in the 1980’s and 1990’s and while the tracks don’t follow the order of the original releases, the new revised sequencing works remarkably well and any production differences smoothed out by the
mastering process.

A couple of tracks I must mention that I think remain criminally overlooked in Morgan’s back catalogue are the funky “Dear Dream Diary” where Scott and the band definitely bring the funk and vocalist Kathy Deschaine gets to strut her stuff and from the Rock Action album the smokin’ duet “Say Yeah”. Had “Say Yeah” been recorded in the 60s and not in the 80s I am convinced that we’d be declaring it one of the greats of the era. As it stands now I am declaring it one of the greats of the 80s and waiting for the day that someone like Sharon Jones finds a duet partner – Scott maybe? – and gives it the exposure it deserves. Kinda like the rest of the tracks on this collection. (Double CD, 38 tracks.) BUY HERE!

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Colin -Mohair Sweets- Bryce

One of Canada’s late 70’s “punk” rock crowd and from 1997 to 2007 the fellow behind Mohair Sweets print and webzine. Currently passes the time by playing the odd gig or two, shaking his head, wringing his hands and pondering whether or not the tape vaults of the legendary Pirates are really exhausted.

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