By Christopher Duda
Scott Morgan. The name is synonymous with Detroit fuelled Rock N Roll. Name any band that came out of that city and Scott has either had his hands in the project or loosely influenced them in some varying degree.
Having just released his solo LP “Scott Morgan” on Alive Records last month and already the praise is pouring in and why shouldn’t it! This release is a perfect blend of R and B, shaken up and served with a cool slice of soul on the side. Smooottthhhh baby. Sometimes preference might be made for something sickly sweet and instantaneous thus feeding the constant craving or sugar fix. Over time, it loses its staying power like a bad generic brand Viagra thus sending the listener plummeting to the earth like some ill-fated Space Shuttle Mission. Morgan has given birth to a CD that spreads like a plague deep from within your brain to your soul, thus giving you everlasting life- Detroit style. No, cheap instant fixes. All beef and no filler! Hallelujah, I have been saved!
Your new LP is what I like about old R&B and soul .I find that the term R&B today has nothing to do with what it was in yesteryear. What bands from this genre initially influenced you and how did you determine what songs you wanted to cover on this release?
We went through at least 30 songs and I let the band cherry pick the eventual tracks. The list is endless. We wound up with three Motown covers, Nina Simone, Bobbie Gentry, Sam Cooke, and Nolan Strong. It is a very deep mine shaft so we may do another album. I wrote five songs, which we put together in the studio.
The songs you chose to cover are not carbon copies of the originals. They seem to take on a destiny of their own as if you had given them a new lease on life a la Scott Morgan style. Was there any songs you would of liked to include on this release that didn’t make the cut and why?
Oh yeah, plenty. Hence the possibility of Volume 2. The guys on the album were a pleasure to work with. We tend to strip songs down to the essential. If we use horns and singers, it sounds great but is nearly impossible to tour. I think of the album as somewhat like some girls by the stones.
How did you approach making this CD and did it differ on how you approached past releases?
It was a conscious decision to keep it simple. When we did the Solution Records in Stockholm, They were fantastic and the live shows as well. We kind of blew people’s minds but we could not tour without losing a small fortune.
Who plays on this release?
Jim Diamond on bass and engineer/producer, Matt Smith on guitar and production, Dave Shettler on drums and production, Box Taylor on guitar, Eddie Baranek on guitar and vocals, Me on vocal and a bit of keys. Everyone Sang.
Would there be anyone you would aspire to play with on future releases?
Probably the same group. We’re looking into touring now.
Critics are already stating that this is the perfect Scott Morgan release. Is there anything you would do differently in hindsight?
I think not. There were only 2 times when things got off track. One was when we tried to record early on a Sunday and I lost my voice. The other when I was singing, “Fallin for Ya” about my mom and I kept kind of losing it and having to start again.
How did you come to be on the Alive Records Label?
I think Matt Smith put that together. Jim Diamond and our agent Willy Wilson probably were involved. I had worked with Patrick Boissel twice already. One was The Rationals Live at The Grande "Temptation Bout to Get Me". The other was Dodge Main with Wayne Kramer and Deniz Tek. We also did some compilation work with him.
Is there any back catalogue of your vast repertoire that has not been re-released? Is there anything left in The Rationals or Scot’s Pirates archives?
Yeah I think we'll try and do a best of. We have most of our masters available. There will be more Rationals releases on top of the two CDs and vinyl 7 inch and two 12 inch vinyl on those releases and maybe a second Rationals record still in the making. Alive also has a 12 inch of the new album.
What is the status of the Hydromatics and Powertrane? Will Dodge Main ever be resurrected?
We recorded Dodge Main Live in Cleveland but it hasn't been released. Joe Chonto filmed The Hydromatics last tour as a documentary. I was told Andy Frost, our drummer, died in Colorado. Hope that is not true. Luckily, we still have Nick and Ries with us so there is a possibility there. Powertrane is on hiatus but that could change.
Many of your counterparts are repeatedly written about in the history books. The bands that you have formed and played in have never been given the full attention they deserve. Do you have any misgivings about your career and choices you have made?
Oh, Not really. I always tend to work with people here that I knew. I had offers to work outside that box but never took them. Maybe playing with Duane Almond would have been good. One night in New York Jimi Hendrix asked me to get in his limo and hang out. That may have been a critical mistake since I opted not to.
Were you happy with the Sonic Rendezvous Band box set released on Easy Action?
Yes very happy. It took a lot of work to get that released but we did it and I am proud of it. Not only for Fred and family, myself, Scott Asheton, Gary Rasmussen, and Ron Cooke, but also to the team we assembled to make it happen.
I have always been curious why Ron Asheton did not play with Powertrane on the Canadian tour?
We only did Ann Arbor and New York with Ron. Canada is a bit of a problem crossing the border. Because Ron and I lived in Ann Arbor that was easy. New York is just something we all wanted to do because it is such a great town.
Your memories of Ron Asheton? Fred Sonic Smith? Rob Tyner? Was the last time you saw Ron when Powertrane opened for The Stooges in Detroit?
Yes, I saw Ron when we opened for The Stooges at the Fox Theater in Detroit. the last time I saw him was Christmas Eve at his house. It was very pleasant and I had no idea he would be gone in a couple weeks. I had known Ron since junior high. With Fred, it was also a total shock. Gary Rasmussen called me with the news. Fred used to call me up late at night to just talk. Patti got a couple Irish stones and we had a memorial service at the Mariners Church in Detroit. it was Fred's city and Patti put up a church tribute over the front door. The stones say Fred's name on one and Sonic on the other. The inscription says twentieth century musician. Amen! People leave guitar picks for him. When rob died, we organized a tribute for him with a bunch of musicians. We had a group to put it together and we had meetings and did radio interviews. It sold out and people threw rocks at the theater because they couldn't get in
How did your affiliation with The Hellacopters, Deniz Tek, come to fruition?
Deniz and I both went to the same schools in Ann Arbor but we were just friends then. He went to Sydney and started a band. I think he liked the Rationals and Sonic's Rendezvous Band. After that, we started working together playing live and making records. He is such a talent. Music, flying, and doctor. With The Copters, I called Nick after I learned they had done a couple of our songs and were coming to New York. I met them at baby monster studio and we recorded our first song together, downright blue, the same night. That was just the beginning. Next we went to Amsterdam and made an album. Then we were on a bunch of live dates. Finally, when my dad died I knew Nick liked soul music so I asked him if we could do that in the studio. That was the birth of the solution. That band was the template for what we did with the new album. We trade Tony Joe White for Bobbie Gentry, Clarence Carter for Nina Simone. Etc.
Was there ever a time when you felt that you might pack it in musically?
Well yes but it never worked out that way. Music kept calling me back. I lost my guitar on the train in Stockholm, but 3 months later it came back like a boomerang. That is kind of the way my music career has worked out. I keep trying to get out of it but some higher power keeps telling me to get back to my real job.
Who initially influenced you to a life of music?
My parents. My dad taught music and my mom played marimba xylophone. I think they sang songs to me even before I was born.
Are there any unsung musicians that you feel should be recognized? (Gary Rasmussen, Robert Gillespie)?
Yes, Gary and Robert are both excellent musicians who can play with anyone. When we were working with Mitch Ryder, he would say these guys could lead their own bands and he was right.
Is Iggy Pop in your opinion an accomplished drummer?
Oh yes. He stepped aside from that so that he could get out front where he belonged and handed the sticks to Scott Asheton. Scott and I became best friends and worked together for about 6 years. Now Scott has the drum forever.
Will you be touring in support of this release and if you are who would make up the live band?
The same band who recorded it. We are just looking at offers now.
What are you plans for the future and future releases?
More Rationals and continuing with the current band.
Any final thoughts or comments?
Onward and upward.
THREE CHORDS AND A CLOUD OF DUST.....