The Rationals: Singles and more... (Us, 60s Superb Garage Rock from Detroit)

As garage bands go, the Rationals were almost too good to be true.

Of all the Michigan talent that flirted with stardom but never got
invited to the party, there is probably no other band of the era so beloved and still so mourned as Ann Arbor's The Rationals. Certainly, here was a group that deserved fame and fortune but, incredibly, failed to get the notice and air-play that should have landed them among the best recording acts of all
time. They were that good.

Blessed with a sterling vocalist, a brilliant guitarist who could more than hold his own as a singer, an inventive bass player and a propulsive drummer, The Rationals infused their stratified, garage-rock
with rich vocalizing and harmonies, making local hit records out of a series of rhythm & blues nuggets such as "Leavin' Here", "Hold on Baby", and Otis Redding's "Respect" (their 45 pre-dating the Vagrants version and providing the inspiration for Aretha's) as well as an incredibly soulful take on Goffin-King's "I Need You" — which may be the finest version of that song ever waxed. The Rationals also had a fierce stage act that was the cornerstone of their fan following around Detroit and environs. One of the highlights of their live performances during the height of their popularity was a stunning soul-song medley built around Tony Clarke's "The Entertainer" that was truly a show-stopper, unleashing every element in their talent arsenal.

As local heroes, they are legend but The Rationals never caught that big break which would have let them cash in and grab the prominence of their contemporaries and friends like Bob Seger (who contributed singing and arranging on some of their singles) and the MC5. By most accounts, it appears that the same management that helped lead them from their early Kinks/Beatles influenced stylings ("Little Girls Cry", "Feelin' Lost") toward the harder rhythm and blues that became their trademark also, probably inadvertently, kept them just shy of the payoff: Instead of freeing the band to work with other producers, their manager Hugh "Jeep" Holland (A-Square Productions) apparently couldn't let go when the recording opportunities came and squandered several chances for the group to land a major label deal.

More singles of this amazing band...from the same place were giants saw the light...SRC and Mc5 among others... yeah... dig it ! ! ! A must ! ! !



Pablo "Pochola" Cazorla said...

Passw: mza-garage.blogspot.com

Anonymous said...

This may well be a collection I have already, but I'll check anyway. Terrific band, and if it's the collection I have, it is very good indeed.

henry said...

gotta give this one a listen. i've read about this band - but don't recall hearing any of their music. thanks and have a great day.

Sr. Mondongo said...

Qué guapo tío!


Pedro from Argentina said...

One of my favourite blogs, this is.
By the way, don't you have:'FALLIN' OFF THE EDGE'by THE SEEDS to share please?.

Anonymous said...

This is terrific, but the collection I referred to earlier is different (unreleased stuff) so this was welcome indeed. Gracias!

esmenard.victor said...

This is great ! I discovered this group with their 1970 album, so I was not enthousiastic, but these earlier singles are killers. Thank you very much.

cgm said...

Wonderful post! Been looking for a while for a Rationals singles compilation - it's a mystery that an official one does not exist (maybe they were victims of the last 20 years' Cameo Parkway CD licensing "challenges"). The case for the Rationals being the true Detroit pre-cursors of the MC5 is strong. However, they may have been some cultural differecnes between the two bands - while the MC5 took out an ad to attack a department store that refused to stock their album, the Rationals recorded a promo single for a clothes store. Strange times indeed.

Worth visiting:

renzo said...

excleentes discos cumpa

Anonymous said...

Many many thanks for this super amazing beat band!

Anonymous said...

excelente! gracias por subirlo

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the post. Been looking for a long time for this stuff.
If anyone's interested check out Scott Morgans recent work with The Hydromatics and The Solution. Both easily available (unlike The Rationals) and both really good.

Pablo"Pochola"Cazorla said...

thanks for your info man!
THe rationals really rocked back in the golden days....ouuhi oui damn yea.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

What a great group "The Rats" were back then. Scott Morgan had that charisma on stage. He also played many instruments very well including Harmonica, percussion, and flute. Their guitarist Steve's solo's were really hot, but it's never really covered in their singles. I am disapointed by the Grande boot, terrible sound and echo, a poor representation of the band live. They WERE great live!

I would like to add that one of their biggest Detroit hits to this day is "Guitar Army". The song was not a typical for the band, but I think an attempt to get local airplay at that time (apart from their 'Respect' and 'I Need You' singles). This was also when the band switched management, and seems like a song that John Sinclair would suggest they write.

There was also another Ann Arbor group in their mangagement that gets lost in Detroit garage band history. The band was "The Thyme". In their early days they did alot of Byrds covers. The Guitarist had a double Mosrite (6+12 string), and they dressed like the byrds too. The band had a few singles "Love to Love", "Someday", and a local hit with a cover of the Zombies "Time of the season". When they disbanded (1967?) the Guitarist went on to Lighthouse, while the bassist went to SRC.

Anybody out there have the A2 (A Square) singles collection?

Many thanks for your great site, keeping the links cool, and all your hard work!

Pablo Cazorla (a.k.a. The Bomber) said...

didnt know about the thyme...read some about em, but no songs from those guys. The Rats...yehe, thats how they used to call the guys ?

Scott M is so good... on stage...pure fire.
I do have the firts SRC original vinyls, very first edition.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, "The Rat's" as slang (not a big mouse). The early songs that really sound like the band "live" in 1966-67 were "Leavin' Here (2nd version)", "I need you", & "Respect". In '68-69 "Barefootin" and "Sunset".

They were all great musicians for their age. Each set Morgan use to play a lot of percussion, a couple songs he played guitar, and he sang holding on to the mic stand with his eyes closed alot, Terry was a funky bass player and use to do that turtle thing with neck. Steve was a right handed guitarist. They had this van with their name on it. Seemed like they were on the Windsor teen TV show "Swingin' Time" every other month back then.

As I remember in the early years they covered songs by Young Rascals, Yardbirds, and as with alot of Detroit groups played some charting soul. I've heard unreleased versions of "Smokestack Lightning" & "Gotta find me a part time love" that were noisy vinyl, but the band stretches out, and are great. I don't know where they originate from, maybe the local fan club records they had?

As for "The Thyme", they played alot of sock hops with The Rat's as both were under Jeep's management. Bassist Al Wilmot went to SRC on their 2nd lp, and guitarist Ralph Cole that went to Lighthouse. Their singles are on the recent A Square compilation.

Later, Weekend Hippie

Pablo Cazorla (a.k.a. The Bomber) said...

thanks again mate.

Pablo Cazorla (a.k.a. The Bomber) said...

learning from you everytime i read these kind of comments.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, I am looking forward to listening to this band. Loved Mitch Ryder and Detroit, Steve Hunter rocked!

Roadrunner said...

Hola Pablo,saca el el comentario que tiene el la dire del mail..ajajaja desde agosto del dos mil 8 como pasa el tiempo..abrazo