Pennyblack

Pennyblack wrote :

There are two prime movers in the Hydromatics.

The first is Scott Morgan, the veteran Detroit rock’n’roller, who made his reputation as one of the city’s finest singers in The Rationals,a bunch of blue-eyed soul-rockers who shared the scene with groups like the MC5, SRC, the Up, the Stooges and others. He also later served with MC5 alumni Fred “Sonic” Smith’s Rendezvous Band (Morgan also showed up on the 5’s ‘High Times’). The second is guitarist Tony “Slug” Leeuwenburgn, of the Nitwitz, Loveslug and hardcore punks Balthasar Gerard’s Kommando.


The Hydromatics were formed along with Nicke Royale, a well-known admirer of the Sonic Rendezvous Band. His group the Hellacopters’ cover of the group’s sole single release, ‘City Slang’, played a large part in elevating the older group’s
profile.


In addition to guesting with the Hellacopters on stage, Morgan and Royale teamed with Leeuwenburgn and Nitwitz bassist “Thumpin'” Theo Brower to form the Hydromatics, a group in part dedicated to recording in the studio all those great Sonic Rendezvous Band songs that, as the band went into the studio, were known only via bootlegs.


Thus was born ‘Parts Unknown‘, the group’s first album. It came out in 1999 and was made up of half originals, half covers of the Sonic Rendezvous Band (and one of Ricky Carter and the Weathervane’s ‘7 come 11‘).

Since then Nicke Royale has departed the band to devote himself to the Hellacopters.

There’s also been a host of other SRB-related albums: ‘Sweet Nothing‘, the essential Sonic Rendezvous Band’s purchase, is a live CD released by Mack Aborn Rhythmic Arts. A second CD, ‘City Slang‘ has also been released by the label. There’s a 45 rpm 12″EP also called ‘City Slang‘ which has the same cover art, but a different tracklisting, apart from the title track. There’s also a live album out by the Rendezvous Band, with Radio Birdman guitarist Deniz Tek filling in for the late Fred Smith. Tek even plays a guitar he bought from Smith, and according to Morgan (who went to the same Ann Arbor school as Tek and Iggy Pop) also once jammed on stage with the SRB in 1978.


This history is by way of saying that the group goes back a long way into Detroit’s storied and influential musical history and uses most of it to produce an album of high-energy rock’n’roll, with a few soulful touches, that does as much justice to the old material as possible without Fred Smith rising from the dead.

The new material, almost entirely penned my Morgan, fits snugly with the material he wrote a quarter-century ago and also includes covers of two Smith songs, ‘Sweet Nothing‘ and ‘Do It Again‘.


The new album does have more of a soul influence than ‘Parts Unknown‘, ” a direction Royale apparently wanted to take the band in before he left. (Royale is also a soul music fan, as is evidenced by the two Smokey Robinson and the Miracles’ songs the Hellacopters covered on their recent split EP with the Flaming Sideburns.) Royale’s place behind the drumkit has been taken by Andrew Frost, a very hardhitting drummer on the Detroit scene who was brought in by Morgan. The band makes occasional use of a horn trio, the Hectic Horns, on the first album and has added backup singers, most notably on the appropriately titled ‘Soulbone‘.


A very solid effort from a living should-be-a-legend and some of his disciples.