The Rationals actually predated the MC5
by quite some time, both chronologically and stylistically. When they began recording for the local A2 label in 1965, they were, like many garage bands, heavily influenced by the British Invasion, although they gave their material a more soulful flavor than most similar units. "Gave My Love" was a chart-topper in Ann Arbor (and a hit in Detroit), as was a follow-up single of "Respect" (which predated Aretha Franklin
's version). Picked up for national distribution by Cameo/Parkway, it nudged into the lowest regions of the national charts as well.
Similar distribution of follow-up singles by Cameo and Capitol found them pursuing a more blue-eyed soul-oriented direction on cuts like "I Need You" and "Hold on Baby," followed the same story: big success in Michigan, nothing doing elsewhere. Morgan
turned down a spot in Blood, Sweat & Tears
, and the Rationals finally got an album out on Crewe in early 1970. By that time, though, their moment had passed: their best work was behind them, and attempts to modify their energetic pop/soul approach for the psychedelic album market were ill-fated.
The Rationals broke up in the summer of 1970. Morgan
continued to build his cult credentials over the next 25 years on sporadic recordings with Sonic's Rendezvous Band
(which also featured the MC5
's Fred Smith), the Scott Morgan Band
, and Scot's Pirates. Licensing hurdles prevented their batch of fine '60s singles for A2, Cameo/Parkway, and Capitol from being reissued on a coherent anthology until Big Beat Records released the fine two-disc Think Rational! in 2009, which included most of the key tracks the group recorded between 1965 and 1968. ~ Richie Unterberger & Steve Leggett, Rovi