Listen – The Rationals – Guitar Army – MP3
Another week has slipped away from us and the weekend looms large.
I don’t know about you cats, but I’ll be at the Asbury Lanes this Friday night whipping a little vintage funk and soul (in 45 form) on the gathered masses, and if you’re in the area, and feel like letting your hair (and maybe your pants) down, that is definitely the place to be.
If you can’t make it, or if the soulful sound is not the bag you’re in, allow me to drop something a little heavy – on the rock side of things – to get your weekend started.
The Rationals, who came up alongside the MC5 and the Stooges (yet were paradoxically the least successful of those groups, and certainly the least remembered) in Ann Arbor, Michigan, made some great music between 1963 and 1970, for a variety of local (A2, Genesis) and national (Cameo, Crewe) record labels.
Their sound was a mix of British Invasion inspired jangle (the incredible Beatley ‘Feelin’ Lost’) and white boy soul (they did a wicked cover of Eddie Holland’s ‘Leaving Here’).
By the end of the 60s, the freaky scene around them started to manifest itself in their sound (if only to a degree), and they had moved on to crafting ragged but right heaviosity that wouldn’t have sounded out of place alongside the chest beating of the MC5.
The freakiest/heaviest of their later period recordings is the song that gave Michigan activist John Sinclair the title for his memoir, ‘Guitar Army’.
The tune starts out with some muddy guitar riffing, before kicking into high gear, and a line that sound like a repudiation of their more radical scene mates:
“Some folks talkin’ bout
I ain’t talking bout
I’m just talking bout
Wherein the Rationals seem to be running their freak flag about three quarters of the way up the pole, happy to rock the house where the MC5 might have wanted to go ahead and burn it the fuck down.
Forty years down the pike, this is all groovy (gravy) on account of no matter how righteous the Five, Sinclair and the rest of the White Panthers might have been then, people are in a much mellower place, though considering what we went through the last eight years, and the amount of grief the McCain Army were able to dole out concerning a certain member of the Weather Underground, maybe that’s not so cool.
No matter the politics behind the song, it’s a great, high energy rocker with some wild guitar from Steve Corell.
I also dig the weird, mellow little inter (outer) lude at the end of the tune.
I hope you dig it, and I’ll be back on Monday with something groovy.