Wednesday, June 30, 2004

3 Assassins

Posted By on Wed, Jun 30, 2004 at 12:00 AM

In service of the Motor City legacy, Ann Arborites Scott Morgan and Deniz Tek are clearly due medals of honor — the former for his pioneering ’60s work with the Rationals and subsequent team-up in the ’70s with Fred Smith in Sonic’s Rendezvous Band, the latter for helping take that legacy global as guitarist for Australia’s Radio Birdman at a time, circa 1976-78, when the Detroit scene was ripe for rediscovery. Each man has remained musically active, of course, and over the years they’ve frequently collaborated. In 1996 Tek, Morgan and Wayne Kramer put together Dodge Main; 1999 saw a Rendezvous Band reunion tribute concert with Tek subbing for the late Smith; and in 2002 Tek toured as the guitarist for Morgan’s Powertrane project.

The summit at hand reads and plays like a virtual Detroit musical travelogue. Recorded during a 2001 European tour, the CD finds the pair backed up by Italy’s premier punk combo the A-10 and serving up primo skree drawn from both men’s back catalogs alongside a brace of well-chosen covers. The MC5’s “Future/Now” in particular makes for a riveting show-opener, guitars clanging like jailhouse doors and Morgan’s bluesy vocal taking on an apocalyptic tone, while the one-two Stooges punch of “I Got A Right” and “TV Eye” provides a thematically apt conclusion to the set. Bookended thusly, the other tracks betray no slack either. Present are several numbers Morgan originally wrote for the Rendezvous Band — “Asteroid B-612” is so tight you can hear the singer’s ass cheeks squeak when he moves. There’s also a hi-nrg slice of psychedelic soul called “Runaway Slaves,” which he borrowed from the set list of yet another band he fronts, The Hydromatics. Among Tek’s submissions: a fiery, “Jumpin’ Jack Flash”-like “Shellback” and the Birdmanesque “Agua Caliente,” both from his 1998 solo album Equinox. And somewhere in there a three-guitar torching of Fred Smith’s Rendezvous Band anthem “City Slang” takes place. The ensuing seven-minute conflagration, powered by Tek’s switchblade riffing and Morgan’s “c-c-c-c-c-cit-teeeeee” stutters and extemporaneous microphone paroxysms, is revelatory, and riveting: European audiences, long denied by geography the opportunity to experience firsthand the Motor City’s burning, were finally witness to the flames.

E-mail Fred Mills at


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