Sunday, July 10, 2005

MC5 - KICK OUT THE JAMS ! Over & Over

one of the most influential bands to ever shake some action...

Long before Rage Against The Machine, The Manic Street Preachers, Bad Religion , U2 , Public Enemy, Sex Pistols or The Clash ...There were these guys from Michigan...The Motor City 5...who were blasting radical rock n roll wrapped up in the political platform of The White Panther Party...

This original American band hit the road hard, hit their marks, and eventually the skids, but left behind a beautiful bloody legacy of sacred sonic scars ...Between 66 & 71 they got busted, banned, beaten by the man and still made some amazing headlines & balls out rock before disintegrating in a bitter & bedraggled mess a few years down the road.

Funny thing is, the few surviving members are back for a run...and playing later this month in NYC. Listen to some tunes & read about what it's really all about...

Rob Tyner

Wayne Kramer

Michael Davis

MC5 - Kick Out The Jams

MC5 - American Ruse

MC5 - Over and Over

MC5 - Sister Ann

The MC5 first earned their chops & keep playing nearly every weekend in Detroit's Grande Ballroom from 1966 until getting signed to Elektra in 1968. They had their roots in the garage, and like other Michigan bands of their day, they owed a heavy debt to the Motown sound and stole much of their onstage shtick from the gritty R&B scene native to Detroit.

They worked for a little over a $100 bucks a night getting their start, supporting just about every name act that came though their turf including gigs with Cream, The Fugs, Blue Cheer, Sun Ra, Janis Joplin, Moby Grape, Sly & The Family Stone, Troggs, Jefferson Airplane, Tim Buckley, Chambers Bros., Vanilla Fudge, Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin and many more.

They struggled for their share of limelight, provided the venue's lightshow, and used their manager's big mouth to get them exposure as he dealt with the numerous legal problems & sheister promoters along the way.

Bands that opened for the MC5 as they all trudged up the show biz ladder included the Velvet Underground, T-Rex, Bob Seger System, Ted Nugent's Amboy Dukes, James Gang, Commander Cody, Alice Cooper, Grand Funk, John Lee Hooker, Chuck Berry, Mitch Ryder, Funkadelic etc.

This clip from an article in an old Berkely Barb tell the tale of the band in their heyday:

"As the Village Voice noted, no other group does the Little Richard split, the Chuck Berry Cakewalk, the James Brown kneedrop, the Jackie Wilson leap with the mastery of the Five.

As Sinclair describes it, "We're a total thing, a working model of the paleo-cybernetic culture in action". They bombard your sensed from every angle; the drawback with their album (Elektra 7404) is that it's like buying a souvenir program to a Maximilian circus.

"People into progressive rock," says Tyner, "have trouble relating to us. We have evolved beyond the key and the beat. It's based on energy. A song, like everything else - including our lives - is viewed as an energy force".

"We don't play Hollywoodshit", adds lead guitar Wayne Kramer, "Our music is rock and roll, dope and fucking in the streets."

Of course on the road & at home, there was plenty of Dope, Guns & F*cking In The Streets to go with all the radical rhetoric as well...

Like Elektra labelmates The Doors, sometimes their radical image and publicity got the best of them. The picture of Tyner getting it on, was featured in Fifth Estate and soon got them banned from a lucrative Florida festiva gig. The band became notorious for stirring up trouble, and not just onstage. Click the advert below to read what happended when Huey Lewis' early hippie mellow Marin County boy band ran into the MC5 on tour in 1969 in SF

lyrics to Over And Over

by Fred 'sonic' Smith (future Mr. Patti Smith)

People talkin 'bout solutions, over and over
'Bout how we need a revolution, over and over
I was talking 'bout ecology, over and over
'Bout how we'll be saved by technology, over and over
While the cat next door spends all his time
Trying to think up new antisocial crimes

I said no, I said hang on a minute now
I set let me outta here
I said no, no, no

People talking revolution, over and over
About a mass execution, over and over
Well I was working in a factory, over and over
Just trying to make it satisfactory, over and over
But all these inclinations toward manic frustration
I want my vaccination against castration
Vietnam, what a sexy war
Uncle Sam's a pimp, wants us to be whores,

I said no, I said I can't take much more of this
You better let me outta here
I said no, no, no

Oh you see I need a release for my frustration
Oh don't you see I can't hold my aggravation, no, no, no

I see people dyin', over and over
Why don't I sit around crying, over and over
I see people taking, over and over
Why don't I sit around waiting, over and over

The cop on the street wants us down on our needs
The president says we've got to have peace
The other cat says we need our liberation
The hippies telling us we're in the love generation

I said whoa, I said hang on a minute now
This can't go on much longer
I said no, no, no

Over and over, over and over
Over and over, over and ove

I've got a copy of their former managerJohn Sinclair's now out of print book "Guitar Army" and it's chock full of fiery pompous prose. Read with today's hindsight, it would likely bore a holy hole into your bourgeois brain, but even now I hear copies of this 60's manifesto go for up to $100. Let's just say, Sinclair paints his own picture through revolutionary rose colored glasses while the boys in the band and their groupies come off as righteous rebels, while the musician's are veritable soldiers of salvation, and gods with guitars.

click the Guitar Army cover pic to be directed to rambling excerpts written at the peak of Freak Power To The People and all that jazz...

To this day Sinclair continues to toot the horn & hype the group almost 40 years since their inception. His main objective is to enshrine them in the classic rock pantheon, while attempting to distance the group in style & substance from other lesser distractions & movements. He ultimately attempts to situate the MC5 above all their garage, hippie & punk rock peers, in comments such as these about some old demos he's unearthing on CD:

at no time does their music ever bear any resemblance whatsoever to punk rock. To the contrary: Like all the other outstanding rock & roll artists of their generation, from the Beatles and the Rolling Stones to Jimi Hendix and the Allman Brothers, the 5's roots were deeply embedded in the rich cultural soil of African-American music, and when they came out, they came out swinging. The MC-5 rocks and rolls like a motherfucker, they play the blues and they get as funky as they wanna be when they do the James Brown. Their repertoire included works by Chuck Berry, Little Richard, John Lee Hooker, Screamin' Jay Hawkins, Ray Charles, Shirley Ellis and James Brown himself, and their own compositions are simply rock & roll songs rooted firmly in the rock & roll tradition.

Indeed in real life, unlike the hedonistic harmony portryed in John's book, it got ugly, paranoid and harsh pretty quick and not just because the FBI showed up at the party. Egos begat drug problems, followed by dysfunctional relationships, jailtime and financial problems...and the revolution was not only not televised, they never even finished the script.

Awhile back I got a chance to see " MC5 - A True Testimonial" in the theater and would recommend it to any one seeking to know more about the history and fusion of radical politics, sex, drugs, and rock n roll. You get all that in without the liver & brain damage, tapped phones, tear gas or jail time!

Unfortunately Wayne Kramer has stopped the producers of the film from geting the picture out on DVD over some song publishing issues, and then Rob Tyner's relatives filed their own law suit. So it looks like that definitive work will not be seeing the light of day anytime soon...

This new DVD "MC5 - Kick Out The Jams" pictured below is a by product of the band's protesting promotor & rabid ringleader John Sinclair's home movie collection. Comprised of archival 8mm clips of the band playing, pontificating and posing, we can finally see the MC5 up close. The much heralded manic intensity of their onstage shtick & chaotic charisma is self evident even in the grainiest of clips of the old Grande Ballroom back in the day .

"The program contained on this DVD is a manifestation of an experiment in creating a collective consciousness that aimed to live life as loud as possible."We get that simple warning up front, and are spared any attempts at authoritative narration, as raw unraveling footage from an era gone by suspends us all in time. Silent footage from 8mm black & white competes with other audio sources to paint the scene. A wrap up interview with the always chatty Sinclair , who was imprisoned at the height of the band's fame on drug charges and now lives in New Orleans, is included in the extras.

John Sinclair today

While we wait for Wayne Kramer & Tyner's heirs to settle ultimately self destructive & lame legal battles with the producer's of "MC5 - A True Testimonial" picture, we'll have to do with this look back for now...

Dig iT!

Note: You can order either of the DVD editions of these rollicking MC5 flicks listed below via the links provided with PayPal or Credit Card...

Creem Presents:

MC5 - Kick Out the Jams!

$13.50 w/ US shipping included

also available:

Sonic Revolution: A Celebration of the MC5 - Live at London's 100 Club
(widescreen look at a 2002 UK reunion also featuring special guests
Dave Vanian (The Dammed), Lemmy (Motorhead), Ian Astbury (The Cult) & more footage including members of The Hellacopters, White Stripes and rare clips from the 1968 Democratic convention protests)

Bonus Feature: 30-minute UK Channel 4 documentary with Jack White, Primal Scream’s Mani, The Go, Richard Fearless (Death in Vegas), among many others and narrated by Mojo Magazine editor Andrew Male and BBC Radio 1’s Zane Lowe.

Special Bonus Sections:

  • Behind-the-Scenes Rehearsal Footage

  • Interview Outtake Footage

  • Unedited TV Performance of "Black to Comm"

  • Robin Seymour's Lively Spot

  • Kick Out The Jams promotional video with and without band commentary

  • Footage and home movies from the Bell Isle Love-In with band commentary

  • Uncut US Department of Defense surveillance footage from Democratic National Convention Festival of Life concert

  • DVD w/ shipping just $19.99 in US

    P.S The MC5 reunion continues in 2005 with these dates below in NY, Sao Paolo & LA

    Friday, July 29, 2005
    66 N. 6th St.
    Brooklyn, NY 11211
    (718) 599-5103
    DKT/MC5 Featuring:
    Gilby Clarke (Guns N' Roses)
    Lisa Kekaula (BellRays, Basement Jaxx)
    Mark Arm (Mudhoney)
    Handsome Dick Manitoba (Dictators)
    Crispen Cioe (Uptown Horns)
    Larry Etkin (Uptown Horns)

    Performing in its entirety,
    the groundbreaking MC5 album


    Saturday, July 30, 2005
    Central Park Summerstage
    Rumsey Playfield in Central Park
    (enter at 69th Street and 5th Avenue)
    New York, NY
    (212) 360-2777
    w/ Sun Ra Arkestra & DJ Spooky

    DKT/MC5 Featuring:
    Gilby Clarke (Guns N' Roses)
    Lisa Kekaula (BellRays, Basement Jaxx)
    Mark Arm (Mudhoney)
    Handsome Dick Manitoba (Dictators)
    Crispen Cioe (Uptown Horns)
    Larry Etkin (Uptown Horns)
    + Surprise Guests

    3pm - 7pm


    Saturday, August 13, 2005
    Campari Rock
    Sao Paulo
    DKT/MC5 Featuring:
    Mark Arm (Mudhoney)
    Marshall Crenshaw


    Saturday, September 17, 2005
    UCLA Royce Hall
    B100 Royce Hall
    Los Angeles, CA 90095
    (310) 825-4401
    An Evening at Royce Hall
    with DKT/MC5's very special guests
    The Sun Ra Arkestra Directed By Marshall Allen

    DKT/MC5 Featuring:
    Gilby Clarke (Guns N' Roses)
    Lisa Kekaula (BellRays, Basement Jaxx)
    Horn Section - Dr. Charles Moore (trumpet), Buzzy Jones (sax), Phil Ranelin (trombone)
    + guests to be announced

    Go to the DKT/MC5 site to find out more information.

    other MC5 related websites to check out:

    Wayne Kramer @ Total Energy + Wayne Kramer's official site
    John Sinclair @ Total Energy + John Sinclair Radio site

    MC5 at and as featured on the Perfect Sound site
    The Bootleg legacy by Ken Shimamoto

    psst ... bonus MC5 MP3 cuz yer cute & really paying attention:

    MC 5 - Skunk ( Sonically Speaking )

    1 comment:

    Anonymous said...

    True Testimonial Update: