In 1988, Scott Morgan
– a singer, songwriter and guitarist who back in the 1960s had led the Ann Arbor-based band the Rationals and then in the 1970s was a member of Sonic’s Rendezvous Band – wrote and recorded a song called “Detroit.” Released on the album Rock Action
and as the B-side to the single taken from it (the A-side was “16 With A Bullet”), “Detroit” was a powerful, emotionally charged tribute to the city that had at one time or another been home to more than a hundred musicians. Not just the rock ’n’ rollers; the musicians who played jazz, soul, rhythm & blues and blues were included, as well.
But because of the fucked-up nature of the American recording industry, Scott couldn’t get Rock Action
released by a stateside label (released by a French company, it was only available in Detroit as an import) and, because of the fucked-up nature of the radio stations in America, but especially in Detroit, where social and cultural amnesia was rampant, he couldn’t get his songs – neither “Detroit” nor any of the other excellent songs on Rock Action
– played on the radio.
And so “Detroit,” which was a classic song about forgotten classics, itself became a forgotten classic. It remained one for more than twenty-five years.
But on October 20, 2014, an English label called Easy Action will release Revolutionary Action
, a two-CD compilation that includes re-mastered versions of Scott Morgan’s first three solo albums. “Detroit” is on it, of course. In fact, not only is it the first song on the first disc, but it is also the first single taken from the compilation as a whole. You can certainly expect to see Scott perform the song when his new band, Scott Morgan & the Sights, appears at the Corktown Tavern, 1716 Michigan Ave., Detroit, on Saturday, Nov. 29.
Bill Brown lived in Ann Arbor between 1980 and 1984. He moved there to go to U-M, but instead of returning home (the New York City area) or going somewhere else, as so many students do upon graduation, he stayed on. In addition to working at a variety of restaurants, including the iconic Fleetwood Diner, he wrote about music for
The Michigan Daily, The Ann Arbor News, The Michigan Voice and
The Detroit Metro Times. Most of these articles were reprinted in an anthology titled
You Should’ve Heard Just What I Seen. It makes for a great guide to the local music of the time.