Monday, 5 December 2011
Review: The Rationals
The Rationals – S/T (Big Beat / Ace)
When, in 2009, Ace Records released The Rationals’ compilation “Think Rational”, there was considerable excitement amongst fans of Detroit rock, though it was tinged with a little disappointment. The 2009 collection compiled their classic late ‘60s singles, rarities and various unissued gems over two discs, but there was no sign of their acclaimed self-titled album issued on the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it Crewe label in 1970. Well, Ace have now rectified the oversight, and present the original nine-track album complete with four bonus cuts: the two single versions of “Guitar Army” and “Sunset”, plus “Zip-A-Dee Doo Dah” and an astonishing 11 minute live-in-the-studio take of Willie Dixon and Howlin’ Wolf’s “Wang Dang Doodle”.
The original album’s reputation is well deserved. The mix of covers and their own material hangs together brilliantly, and even R&B staples like “Barefootin’” are freshened up with some properly fuzzy guitars. Original songs like “Deep Red” and “Ha Ha” show a band adept at soulful, futuristic rock and, of course, the infamous “Guitar Army” might have been the antithesis of John Sinclair and the MC5’s literal call to arms, but it’s just as powerful a musical statement, and as fine a slice of garage-punk as you’ll find anywhere, including the Nuggets box. I can’t claim to have been particularly au fait with The Rationals catalogue before I came across this fine collection, but now I’m a certified, card-carrying fan – and I’ve not even had a chance to rave about their fantastic version of “Wang Dang Doodle”…