Big Beat’s Rationals compilation “Think Rational” delivered some long overdue kudos to these seminal Michigan rockers. As promised we are proud to present the group’s 1970 album in the same well-annotated and lavishly illustrated manner; the first time these recordings have been reissued legitimately.
At the time of the album’s release, Detroit rock was epitomised by the Grande Ballroom and the powerful sounds of the groups associated with it, such as the MC5, Stooges, SRC, Amboy Dukes and Frost. The Rationals were younger than the majority of the musicians in these groups, and they ploughed their own rock/R&B furrow, resisting the heavyweight arrangements deemed mandatory, and eschewing the fashionable hirsute image of the time for a neat, latter-day mod look. Not that the Rationals were unpopular at the “high energy” Grande – far from it. The group appeared as a regular, and no doubt refreshing, alternative to the bluster of many of their harder-edged contemporaries. Their classic 1969 single ‘Guitar Army’ became an anthem of sorts for Detroit rock, with its universal truth that seemed to have been submerged in the overheated revolutionary rhetoric of the time – that the music was the message.
Having left their mentor Jeep Holland, of A-Square Records,in 1968, the Rationals cast around for a contract and a producer, eventually settling for a deal with Bob Crewe’s short-lived Crewe label. The result, this album, were as soulful as their earlier recordings but it demonstrated better the breadth of the group’s talents. Intricate, complex originals like ‘Ha Ha’ and ‘Deep Red’ nestled easily with tried and tested R&B chestnuts from their stage act and inspired covers like Dr John’s ‘Glowin’’ and Mike d’Abo’s soon-to-be-classic ‘Handbags And Gladrags’. All showcased the amazing pipes of vocalist Scott Morgan to great effect.
Sadly, the Rationals’ long-overdue shot at recording a long-player did not translate into record sales and by the end of the year the group had split. They remain a cherished memory for their devoted hometown audience of Ann Arbor who had been by their side since they first emerged in 1965.
Our reissue of “The Rationals” adds the rare single mixes of ‘Guitar Army’ and ‘Sunset’, along with two previously unissued tracks, including an amazing ten minute live-in-the-studio take of ‘Wang Dang Doodle’ that goes some way to explaining the roots of that devotion. The Rationals were truly one of the era’s finest.
By Alec Palao