Powertrane re-boot has power and soul to burn
Beyond The Sound (...And Beyond) – Scott Morgan’s Powertrane (Easy Action)
The passing of guitarist Robert Gillespie after a lengthy illness earlier this year should give you an excuse (if any were needed) to chase down this vynil re-issue of the 2007 CD he played on as a member of Scott Morgan’s Powertrane.
Gillespie was a guitarist of rare skill who’d played in The Torpedos, glammy Motor City Rockers and The Rob Tyner Band, and was a longtime Mitch Ryder sideman. Scott Morgan’s Powertrane may not have been household names but, damn, they were a fine band that was blessed with one of the great vocalists in Scott Morgan. He and Gillespie were also a superb guitar pairing – as you’ll hear on this record.
“Beyond The Sound (...And Beyond)” also exists to remember Andy Frost, the wild card drummer for Powertrane and the post-Nicke Royale Hydromatics, who died suddenly in 2010, aged just 32.
Originally issued on Motor City Music as “Beyond The Sound” in 2007, this extended vinyl version adds four live-to-air radio tracks, two on the LP and the others on a seven-inch single.
Why Powertrane weren’t huge all over is as much a reflection of where rock and roll was at in the early 00s. Too old to ride the New Garage wave seized on by large label offshoots and too unfashionably rock and roll to pander to fashion, they had to be content with modest tours of the Midwest and the occasional foray further afield, with guests like Ron Asheton and Deniz Tek on board.
The record is unmistakably Michigan: High octane guitars, a willing engine room and truckloads of energy with a distinct no-nonsense blue collar edge. The songwriting and Morgan’s vocal kicks it up a grade. It’s music to drive a car by.
The album features five Morgan and Gillespie co-writes as well as collaborations with bassist Chris “Box” Taylor and some older cuts leftover from previous bands. “Inner Flight Royale” is an ode to the Mile High Club penned by Gillespie and Rob Tyner. “Taboo” dates from the same period and parentage, while Morgan comes into his own with the heartfelt solo composition “Pearl”.
“Nightliner” is a road tune, pure and simple, “Chilly Willy Is Missing” adds a dash of lyrical intrigue and the title track is a barnstormer in the vein of the Hydromatics’ “Ready To Ball”.
The band sounds super sharp on the WDET radio tracks, being Al Green’s “Full of Fire”, the Scott Morgan Band’s local music anthem “Detroit”, “Runaway Slaves” and the soulful “Satisfier”. It’s worth procuring the LP for those additions alone.
You may have missed this record the first time around. Don’t compound your mistake.