Catalogue - Order our releases from Bomp mail-orderArtists Scott Morgan

ScottMorgan

Dee-troit royalty
Scott Morgan returns R&B music to the garage
By Bill Holdship

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

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


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 / AMG


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. – The Examiner SF


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. – Dr. Bristol’s Prescription


Dee-troit royalty
Scott Morgan returns R&B music to the garage
By Bill Holdship

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


Scott Morgan interview with Sugarbuzz Magazine | Pennyblack Music review


Although it definitely has a rock feel as well, the album finds Morgan dipping into the classic soul songbook for several terrific covers: the Motown classics "Something About You" (the Four Tops) and "Since I Lost My Baby" (the Temptations); "She’s Not Just Another Woman," a cult favorite from the Detroit soul collective 8th Day; Nina Simone’s "Do I Move You"; and Sam Cooke’s "Bring it on Home to Me," plus Bobbie Gentry’s "Mississippi Delta." Those are accompanied by five originals that sound just great sitting alongside the classics. – Scott Morgan’s interview for AnnArbor.com


Morgan thinks this album sounds like Exile on Main St. – funny how rock guys of a certain age still use the Stones as a signifier – but it’s really more like a good blues session with a really relaxed vibe, which actually goes through four distinct “movements.” Things kick off with a rocked-up cover of the Four Tops’ “Something About You” that works off a chunky Chuck Berry groove overlaid with a little Velvets “White Light/White Heat” sycopation. Beefy backup vocals – an element that’s been missing from the mix since Scott’s late-‘90s resurgence — bolster his raspy lead. Scott’s “Fallin’ For Ya” juxtaposes a slightly modified version of the riff from “Fortune Teller” with jazzy descending chords; the band chugs along nicely.
Jackie Wilson’s “She’s Not Just Another Woman” is wish fulfillment for these feedback-scorched ears. Some of my favorite Morgan music is the vocal harmony-rich Northern soul style of the Rationals’ “Temptation ‘Bout to Get Me” (a Knight Brothers cover) and “I Need You” (the slow one, not the Kinks song), and this is Scott’s first foray onto that turf since the reunited Rationals cut a couple of tracks in the early ‘90s (seek out the worthy odds-and-sods anthology Medium Rare to hear ‘em). – complete I94 review here


We got the latest Scott Morgan solo release in the mail last week and to be honest have been jamming this thing non-stop.
I don’t do reviews – just don’t believe in them but I will tell you that this record has an amazing flow, it’s tight and sets you right. – MotorcityBlog


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


Triggerfish review of Scott Morgan (Germany)