LEGENDS OF THE MC-5" IS HISTORY IN
THE MAKING !
It is time to
LEMMY, once a member of the British psychedelic rock band HAWKWIND, said
he formed MOTORHEAD in 1975 with American sonic-boomers MC5 in mind. "For
me, it was 'Kick Out the Jams' (in 1969)," he said. "At first, I didn't
like the album, but it definitely grew on me. I always thought their second
album ('Back in the USA') was much better. It was a good band, with a
good approach, and that's what we were after"."
ALL QUOTES ARE TAKEN FROM THE SOURCES
Release of KICK OUT THE
JAMS / MOTOR CITY IS BURNING 7"
John Sinclair: The 'Brothers and Sisters' version was for
AM and FM radio play, while the 'Motherfucker' version, the regular way
we do it on stage, was recorded in concert ( the other was recorded in
the afternoon with no one there, just for the 45 ) and meant for the album
Jerry Goodwin: ""Kick Out The Jams" in it's original
version started out with "Kick out the jams... motherfucker. Believe me
NO ONE played it until the "brother and sisters" version was released."
Release of KICK OUT THE JAMS 12"
Jac Holzman: "We actually had 'Kick Out The Jams'
in two version, one with "motherfucker," the other with "brothers
and sisters." The single had "brothers and sisters." And
with the album, stores could choose which version they preferred."
"This was not enough, however, to placate Bill Gavin, a leading radio
programming consultant who published a widely read weekly tip sheet. He
urged programmers not to play even the "clean" version."
Bill Gavin: "As i see it, stations who give airplay
to the single risk public condemnation of encouraging sales of the album
... i view today's radio as responsible for insuring its listeners against
undue offense." (MH - 4/19/1969 in Rolling Stone)
Jac Holzman: "Somehow, Hudson's, the retailing gorilla
of the heartland, got the wrong version and reacted with the fury of a
Midwestern twister. They instantly cleansed their shelves of the record,
which mightily pissed off the MC5 who took out an ad in the local underground
paper, saying "FUCK HUDSONS," signed MC5, with a very visible
Elektra logo, and sent me the bill! In retaliation, Hudson's purged not
only MC5 but every other Elektra album ... I said to the MC5, "Hey,
guys, you can't do that." They said, "Jac, we thought you were
part of the revolution." I said, "I'm only interested in your
26 Wednesday / Plaster casting of
Cynthia Plaster Caster was once summoned
to Detroit to cast the entire MC-5 rock band and had to bring along a
pick-up groupie who assured her she was well qualified to plate everybody.
After eight hours of partying, everybody was ready to get down to business
. . .
And suddenly the girl didn't know what plating meant after all. When it
was explained to her, she flatly refused. But it wasn't that easy. "The
boys wouldn't let her go untill she plated them" says Cynthia righteously.
"After all, she was the one who led us to believe she would cooperate"."
Casting #00010: Dennis Thompson. Casting #00011: Wayne Kramer.
Arnie Geller rereleases I CAN ONLY
GIVE YOU EVERYTHING / I JUST DONíT KNOW 7" on AMG records.
" I JUST DON'T KNOW " is one new of the original session.
Creem magazine: "In Detroit, everyone knows the 5,
whether they like the band or not"
Fred Goodman: "On the Spring day in 1969, Jon Landau
was bound for Ann Arbor, Michigan, to produce an album by the group the
MC5 for his friend and mentor Jerry Wexler of Atlantic Records ... Jon
Landau had no interest in (revolution), but he had argued succesfully
to Wexler that the MC5 could be a commercial success. While many of the
band's fans were drawn by the promise of adventure implicit in the White
Panther Party's seductively subversive credo - "rock and roll, dope
and fucking in the streets" - Landau was drawn by the raw energy
and excitement of the band's live performances as well as their commercial
potential. That was what he wanted to transfer onto record. As
far as he could see, the band's political bent was hopelessly naive and
served only to distract them from the business of making music. Indeed,
the space for overtly political, radical performers was shrinking as the
business grew. Unlike the MC5, Landau embraced the fact that making music
was a business." (MH)
Danny Fields, (who also) urges Wexler to sign the band: "Jon convinced
Jerry that the band got a raws deal at Elektra, that they were musically
to be heard and potentially a hit-making and successful group. And that
we would obliterate all this political baggage which came with them."
Goodman: "Gavin's wasn't the only industry voice raised
against the record. Several large retail accounts, including Sam Goody and
Handleman, refused to carry it ... Hudson's, Detroit's biggest downtown
retailer, wouldn't stock the record ... Holzman went to Detroit to try to
convince the MC5 to let him release an alternative, "clean" version
of the album ... the band wasn't swayed ... Elektra went ahead and changed
the album anyhow." (MH)
Dan Carlisle: "Three Dog Night were in town to play
the Grande Ballroom. During an interview they asked who else was on the
bill. I said, Well, it's gonna be tough for you tonight, guys, it's the
MC5. When they professed ignorance, i suggested we all go down to the gig
a little early. I sat with them at the back of the Grande and watched as
the 5's MC, Jesse Crawford, came out and gave his revolutionary harangue
to bring the band on. Halfway through Ramblin' Rose the eyes of the California
boys were bugging out and they ears were ringing. When Rob Tyner leaped
from behind an amplifier and screamed, 'Kick out the jams, motherfuckers!'
They blanched. The MC5 really stormed through their set that night. Toward
the end, Jesse came back out and whipped up the crowd some more, telling
them that no woman, no matter how fat or ugly, would be denied sexual pleasure
in the MC5's dressing room after the show. Total craziness. The 5 played
their closing piece [Black To Comm] and trashed the equipment. They completely
used that audience up. Then Three Dog Night had to come with their little
Self-financed promotional West Coast tour (March,7-22)
Billboard mag: "NEW YORK - Elektra is changing a cut
on its first MC5 album because of complaints about the lyrics ... the liner
notes also contained the phrase which some merchandisers have found objectionable
... William Harvey, vice-president of Elektra, explained that new copies
of the album would be available for dealers this week. These albums will
contain the single version ... Harvey noted, that, despite some complaints,
Elektra had received few returns of the set.
Handleman Co., Detroit's biggest rack jobber, has refused to handle the
album, while Cadet, another Detroit jobber, recalled unsold albums from
stores after learning of the lyric and liner note phrase. However, Armen
Boladian, president of Detroit's Record Distributors Corp., reported the
album had registred more than 20,000 sales in the Detroit area since its
release last month, with most of these at full retail list." (BB
Fred Goodman: "There, they learned the local distributor
had shipped his old stock back to Elektra in expectation of receiving the
new version. Incensed at what they viewed as blatant censorship, fearful
that their revolutionary fervor would be lampooned in the underground press,
and upset that they had spent money to come to California only to find there
weren't any albums to sell, the band lit into Holzman." (MH)
Billboard mag: "Two versions of the MC5's album on Elektra
are being made available to dealers, according to Jac Holzman ... The original
version will continue to be sold as will a revised version" (BB
Creem Mag: "Reverses followed close on the heels of
sucess. The East Coast tour degenerated into political name-calling and
paranoia anf the West Coast tour was characterized by a marked lack of enthusiasm
on the part of the few audiences they managed to play for. The Elektra album
(...) didn't do much to change people's minds about the band: if you liked
the Five for what you knew them to be you cherished the record as an artifact,
though not as a creative triumph; if you were convinced in front that they
were a bunch of Detroit punks, the album bore you out." (c2#4)
| 5 Saturday
/ Publication of Lester Bangs '
review of 'Kick Out The Jams' in Rolling Stone magazine.
"At the time of their national round, the MC-5 are badly received on
the West coast and they end up playing free at the Straight Theater (in
the heart of Haight-Ashbury) in front of less than 200 people." (RS
Fred Goodman: "Back in Michigan several records retailers
had been busted on obscenity charges for selling Kick Out The Jams. "
16 Wed. / Holtzman puts a term at the contract Elektra/MC5
"Kick Out The Jams had been a Top 30 album and managed to sell over
100,000 copies." (MH)
Fred Goodman: "Fields berated Holzman as a hypocrite
for not standing by the Five ... Holzman fired Fields." (MH)
Fred Goodman: "The day the MC5 were given their release,
Fields urged Kramer to call Landau and see if the critic could get his friend
Jerry Wexler at Atlantic to sign the band.
"Landau was only too happy to make the call and act as the band's
intermediary. "Look," he told Wexler, "I just got the word
that the MC5 received an unconditional release from Elektra. Would you
be interested in discussing it with them?" Landau also made it clear
that he believed Wexler and Atlantic could succeed where Holzman and Elektra
had failed." (MH)
6 Tuesday / MC5 *Ungano's*, New York
Hubert Saal: "They steam
with sweat, they leap and stretch and spin as they play and sing. They
even carry along a sort of flight engineer who adjusts their electronic
amplifiers, hands out towels, passes around a water bucket and replaces
frenetic drummer Dennis Thompson's sticks as he breaks them - ten, fifteen,
twenty a set ... 'Call Me Animal', chants lead singer Rob Tyner, a plumpish
blob of wild-haired libido. And the band makes happy pig noises as Tyner
throws a handy "groupie" to the floor and exuberantly pretends
to rape her. They play and chant with relish "Motor City Is Burning"
and regard society as "The Human Being Lawnmower (Chop-chop-chop-chop-chop)"
as they chant the litany or point the necks of their guitars at the audience
like bayonets or machine guns." (NW 5/19/69)
Wayne Kramer: "It is an energy thing. But we've changed.
We learned you gotta control the energy. You should of seen us
two years ago. People thought we were crazy. We were crazy, i guess.
All that energy. I mean, we were like this (he shook his hands like a
speed-freak) all the time ... About two years ago we reached a point where
we thought we had gone as far as was possible - with this energy thing.
And we stayed in the same bag for a long time; we didn't go anywhere.
Then we realized that the energy has to be controlled." (CH 5/1/70)
Alice Polesky: "I learned then why their gigs, which
seem so chaotic, got such a great rsponse, instead of the response you
think they might get. In spite of the energy which nener lets up but keeps
on coming out, right at you - ZAP - ZAP - ZAP - you thoroughly enjoy yourself
and don't get torn up. I understood what Wayne meant about controlled
energy. Their sets are structured. Not calculated ... but structured,
giving the audience enough leeway ti interact with them; ordered. Their
timing is exquisite, and though they seem wanton, each set is carried
off woth Swiss precision. I mean, like it's right on, however spontaneous
it may seem, and very consciously so ... the set at Ungano's had just
brought up my energy level." (CH 5/1/70)
Fred Kirby: "The Detroit quintet overpowered its material
to the delight of the large audience. Rhythms were strong; the sound was
powerful. They're clearly one of the most exciting acts around ... MC5
started strong with "Tutti Frutti" and never let up. Rob Tyner
must be one of the wildest lead vocalists around as he sang, shouted and
conducted. This last seemed especially appropriate since many of the arrangements,
besides amphatic beats, had sharp breaks, an effective device when used
as well as this dynamic unit used them." (BB 5/17/69)
9 Friday / MC5 *Mitten Hall-Temple
University*, Philadelphia - Show started at 8:30PM at Mitten
Hall on the campus of Temple University. Tickets cost $2.50. The concert
was presented by The Temple Free Press (the University Student Newspaper)
Philadelphia, USA: "In May
of 1969 ... I saw four shows by The Who and one by The MC5 in the span
of three weeks. They were the two loudest bands I ever saw! I practically
lost my hearing that month!
Before the show, my friends and I were up front watching the opening act
whose name I can't even recall. All of a sudden, my friend pointed out
to me that standing a few feet away from us was Rob Tyner. He was also
checking out the support act. He seemed very pensive and calm, and then
all of a sudden, he disappeared.
When the MC5 took to the stage that evening, they looked like one pissed
off bunch of guys. You didn't want to look at Rob Tyner for too long.
He looked as if he would jump off the stage and beat the crap outta ya
! Their sound was deafening! It was almost SO loud, that you couldn't
hear it! Only The Who & The Rolling Stones had a better mix of stage moves,
and attitude in concert in 1969. An amazing performance, by an amazing
"The FBI's interest in the
White Panthers, which had started in late 1968, remained minimal
until the so-called "Ann Arbor Riots" of June 16-18,
1969, which featured three days of pitched battles between rock-throwing
"freeks" and a massive contingent of riot-trained police. For
FBI Director J.Edgar Hoover, who had been incensed by what he termed
"filthy" and "obscene" lyrics by the MC-5,
the mere presence of White Panthers at the riots was proof that they had
coordinated the revolt. After reading reports on the riot, Hoover ordered
that actions be taken to monitor, disrupt, and damage the WPP." (JAH)
7 Saturday / Mike Davis
has been charged with larceny from a building in Ann Arbor for leaving
a drug store with an unpaid for pair of sunglasses. The charge carries
a maximum penalty of five years in prison. Davis left the store to get
money from people outside when the owner couldn't change a $100 bill Kramer
had presented to pay for the glasses and other purchases. Kramer remained
inside the store. The owner picked up a ball bat, grabbed Davis outside
and kidnapped him to the basement of the store untill the police came
(FE June 12-25).
Ron Asheton is asked to fill in for him (on Bass) and plays with the MC-5
this night at the *Eastown Theater Show* (also feat. Illinois Speed Press,
Ron Asheton: So we (Stooges)
played and they asked me if i'd play bass, and we just did like, i didn't
know songs, but we did like four songs, real long versions, a lotta playing
for almost an hour. We did a couple blues things and we did "Looking
At You", "Kick Out The Jams", stuff that i know. It was
really fun, it was fun, it was a different feeling for me to hear the
big double guitars, i was used to holding everything up myself, well,
i had the bass, i could power down with it, but Wayne had a speaker, like
we used to do, you'd have your speaker, then double up the stacks you'd
have guitars, you'd have a little bit of everything. So i happened to
have my ear, and i was used to it, didn't bother me at the time, but i
guess double doses of me bein'...my ear when i'm playin' guitar and Wayne's...i
got offstage and thought it's just a ringing but i couldn't hear out of
this ear for about three days...it was like seriously heavy fingers, cotton,
it was driving me nuts...i went woah!!! I'd pound on it, stick things
in it, but it was fun, really did enjoy that, i was glad that i got to
do that. (BTC #14)
Fred Goodman: "After talking to Landau and Fields,
Wexler signed the MC5 for $50,000, more than double what they had received
from Elektra ... and he gives Landau the MC5 to produce ... The band members
were ecstatic to have landed on their feet so lucratively. And they were
hopeful that Landau's presence as producer would buy them some muscle
in the rock press. To the band's amazement, Kick Out The Jams hadn't
been a hit with underground critics, who had called them everything from
poseurs to incompetent musicians. "It was gangster theoretics,"
says Sinclair, who figured Landau's status among other critics would produce
a more sympathetic response: " 'Gee, Landau! This'll be great.'"
Signature of the contract with ATLANTIC.
Jon Landau: The Elektra
album told the truth about the MC5 ... in a lot of ways it was an accurate
report. It was an excellent technical recording of what they did those
nights and it betrayed the fact that they were not organized." (MH)
Rob Tyner: "... our last album, unfortunately,
there wasn't a lot of rock and roll on it. It was quote psychedelic unquote
music on it, and we're now getting deep into a rock and roll theme, we're
now writing rock and roll. It's closer to it than we've ever been and
we really like it because rock and roll feels good when you play it. You
feel good and the people listening to it feel good because they can dance
to it. I doubt very strongly if you could dance to the first album. How
can you dance to Starship ? What we're talking about is having
a good time, getting down and going wild, getting involved in Motor City
tokedowns and being crazy and dancing, but we realize that we weren't
playing dancing music and people couldn't dance to it. They wound up sitting
down, listening to it with their minds, and we feel that rock and roll
should be listened to and responded to with the body. This doesn't mean
in the metaphorical sense but in the literal sense. If it's rock and roll
you want to shake your ass." (c2#4)
"The 5 are now based on a ten-acre hideout near Hamburg, Michigan
... they have now signed with Atlantic Records. The band will begin recording
their next album at GM studios in Detroit this week and it should be released
by mid-July." (FE June 12-25)
Fred Goodman: "Arriving in Ann Arbor, Jon discovered
that a lot had changed since Halloween recording of Kick Out The Jams.
As a result of growing friction between the band and other members of
Trans-Love, particulary between the band's girlfriends and the other women
in the commune, the MC5 had moved into their own farmhouse in nearby Hamburg,
Michigan ... Tensions were also developing between the band and Sinclair,
who was facing yet another (his third) drug trial ... Fields and
Landau were not interested in Sinclair's problems. Their job was to transform
the MC5 into a viable act for Atlantic." (MH)
Jon Landau: "They're beginning to ask what i think
is a legitimate question, 'What is (Sinclair) he doing for us? He is our
manager, right? We require a professional manager. We are a professional
rock and roll band. There are certain things that have to be done that
are not being done.' I was involved in the discussions, naturally. The
weight of my comments were, in general, that John was not functioning
as their manager and that this had to be dealt with. I didn't propose
what the solution was at this stage, but i simply offered that as an observation."
John Sinclair: "I kept hoping they would wake up one
day and realize what was going down. They never did. In fact, they kept
going further in the other direction. As the band got more national publicity
and exposure, the industry people started getting to them more and more,
it seemed, trying to convince them that they would have to give up their
'political', revolutionary stance altogether if they planned to make it
big in the biz. This fit right in with their own fears - that they had
worked this long and this hard only to be denied their rightful position
as a S*T*A*R band because their manager hed mis-led them and had got them
to do all the wrong things ... and they began to plot their break from
Michael Davis: "We basically fired them at Landau's
urging, 'These people are dragging your ass down. You guys got something
going, and you do it this way, we make a product that's correct. You gotta
get rid of all these freeloaders.' Basically he said, 'Sinclair's fucking
out of his mind, he's a fucking nut, and all these people around him are
a bunch of parasites. Time to clean house.' The way it went down was fairly
| July, 4&5
- Saugatuck Pop Festival No.2 - "John Lee (Hooker) and Wayne
spent a pleasant afternoon together in Saugatuck. Hooker complimented the
5 on "Motor City Is Burning" and suggested they take-on "Boom-Boom".
Wayne thought it was a far-out idea." (CRvol2#3)
Fred Goodman: "The band invited Sinclair out to their
house but just couldn't bring themselves to put their cards on the table.
It devolved into a typical MC5/John Sinclair/White Panther powwow where
a lot of dope was smoked and nothing was accomplished ... On the Eve of
Sinclair's court date they held another meeting and this time included David
Newman, a music business accountant Landau and Fields had brought in. the
band told Sinclair that they were unwilling to pay him 20 percent because
they needed money to pay a new manager and a booking agent. Instead, they
offered 15 percent of their concert earnings, 20 percent of any Elektra
royalties, and nothing from the Atlantic payments, saying Sinclair had played
no part in its procurement (Fields, however, got a 10 percent finder's fee
of $5,000). When Sinclair resisted the proposal, the band offered to pay
him 5 percent of all income instead .... "what do you think of all
this?" Sinclair asked Landau. He was possibly on his way to prison,
the band was deserting him, and he wondered what role Landau had played
in this sudden change of heart ... "I think what's happening is that
the band is recognizing that they are an individual entity," replied
Landau. "As much as they sympathize with what you're doing, they recognize
that they've got their won goals, their own desires, and that your relationship
with them is based on your providing thel with a service for which they're
paying you. And what i think they're trying to tell you - which i agree
with them about - is that they are reevaluating your contribution to this
whole thing and they're saying "This is how much it's worth.' "
John Sinclair: "It was traumatic. Newman looks in and
just says, 'Man, these people are ripping you off. All this money is going
to these people in Trans-Love and you don't even live there anymore.' This
was a situation that had existed for maybe thirty days! For two and a half
years we took care of them and they were working for $125 a night. The Trans-Love
people they maligned so much were people who loved the band." (MH)
"Sinclair rejected both offers."
25 Friday / J.Sinclair is condemned to 9 Ĺ years of prison for the charge
of possession of marijuana
John Sinclair: "They left me there. I never got a penny,
they didn't buy me a carton of cigarettes. My wife was pregnant, the pjone
got shut off, all of that. They never did anything to help ... You guys
wanted to be bigger than the Beatles and i wanted you to be bigger than
Chairman Mao." (MH)
"As Landau and the band began recording at East Detroit's GM
Studios, the producer made an unsettling discovery. Bassist Michael Davis
and drummer Dennis Thompson couldn't play their parts." (MH)
Wayne Kramer: "At one point
he suggested bringing in [bassist] Jerry Jemmott. Anyway, we went around
and around with it. Everyone learned his part note by note." (MH)
Dennis Thompson: "Landau didn't
want Michael (Davis) to play bass on the album, he wanted to bring in a
bass player from Nashville"
"Landau was really inflexible because he had never produced a record
before so he was learning too," says Davis, who wondered if he was
up to handling the pressure." (MH)
John Sinclair: "Landau liked
the Five, until he got into the studio and started breaking down tracks
and listening to them and said, 'Hey , these guys can't play.' Well, there
was a Gestalt, a whole thing. Any one of them would have been relatively
mediocre talent. Together they were something different. They fit together
and made something that was much bigger than the talent involved."
Landau on MC5's album Back
In The USA : "I would say that we're about 2/3 to 3/4 done.
The album is programmed on two sides; not that there's gonna be a lot of
segues and a lot of made up stories. But one side of the album's entitle
'Teenage Lust,' and most of the songs on it relate to that general
them. The songs include Call Me Animal, Tonight,
a Fred Smith composition to be used for the single, Teenage Lust
and Tutti Frutti. Tutti Frutti will open that side ( and will
feature the piano playing of Lyman Woodard".)
On the other side, the 'American Ruse' side, obviously dealing with
the most infamous ruse of them all, you have Back In The USA,
High School, The Human Being Lawnmower (chop chop chop),
American Ruse, and a new song being written by Fred Smith
entitled Shakin' Street. Ten songs. Possibly there'll be eleven
songs; there's the possibility of a little surprise. In line with whole
contemporary rock and roll approach, the longest song on the album is just
over three minutes. It's unlikely anything on the album would be even three
and a half minutes long.
The album will be a rock and roll album, but it won't be one of those albums
that'll be pretendin' that it was recorded 20 years ago by a bunch of people.
We try and retain some of the spirit of that, but to transpose or make more
contemporary the notion of rock and roll. Turn it into rock and roll 1969,
1970, so that when we have on the album Tutti Frutti, it ain't an attempt
to revive or to emulate in any way the magnificence of Little Richard's
Tutti Frutti - one of the outstanding records in the history of the world
- but is rather an attempt to take the song and retain the energy and certain
dimensions of the song, but to put it into a contemporary context. It's
five young Lincoln Parkian lads, filled with energy, youthful vitality and
so forth, and they do it different. It's just different.
I relate to rock and roll a lot more than i relate to a political thing
as such. I think that rock and roll in a lot of ways is bigger than that.
And i think that the album really is an attempt to get that absolute essential
quality of rock and roll. It's an attempt to break past all the artifacts
and the pretensions and just an attempt to generate and create a rock and
roll feeling as its most basic." (Creem Aug.31, 1969)
Ray DeMotte: "In
1969 or 1970 in Ann Arbor , Michigan a 14 year old boy, mature for his
age was invited to a hall for a dance, and assuming like junior high dances
dressed casually, expecting a few bands, a few girls maybe, and some semi-commercial
top 40 music with maybe a few progressive influences here and there. From
several blocks away the bass guitar rumbled, and closer the sounds increased
until they quietened down. Paid the fee, entered to see everly colour
of the universe in lights, on shirts, a crowded hall brimming with expectation...
and a wall of amps, then the MC5 appeared. Ripping along like a speed
train that keeps going faster and faster the sound enveloped the room,
everyone inside themseleves went faster and faster, and when Starship
played, it was like a sound the could conquer the earth, and it was no
longer loud because it was part of you. Younger and older, pop, blues
or rock fans, junior high, high school, college, form Michigan or from
beyond, moving to the same beat electrifying your brain. I have been to
many concerts the intervening 32 years, with the possible exception of
a few Stooges or Slade concerts, nothing could match the Mc5 in its prime.
Elemental, powerful, exciting. Many bands say play their albums loud,
but MC5's live album has to be played at maximum volume to even get a
glimpse of the power of this band live. They played a "slow" song which
I danced to with the first girl I ever made love to, Christine, older
than me but with all the feminine promise a boy could dream of, maybe
the song was I Put a Spell on You. For a moment I caught the eye of Wayne
Kramer, he nodded as though he knew all that would happen, and the magic
of his guitar set the stage for a special night. A new world, a new sound,
for a moment it seemed MC5 could conquer the world, alas not to be, alas
one of the greatest bands in rock would fade away very quickly, like a
supernova it burst upon the world - but what a time."
Dan Latella: "The MC5
were definitely the most exciting band I ever saw and I've seen them all.
Fred Sonic Smith and Wayne Kramer were like marionettes as they moved
around the stage doing flips and playing guitars in perfect unison like
a double barrel shotgun to your brain. An amazing stage act they had with
the American flags draped on the amps and wall. When I saw the Clash use
the English flag in the same manner I definitely got it. The s ongs they
played were mostly from the second watered down but still excellent album.
In live performance you saw what a great album Back in the USA is. How
they transformed Let me try from a slow dance song into a blazing powerhouse
was magical. This show still stays in my memory as one of the greatest
things I've ever experienced and there is really no way I can explain
how that high school auditorium turned into a rockin Starship. They were
from a place beyond this Earth's boundaries where you leave knowing your
life would never be so good again and very few of the people you will
ever meet will know what you know. Seeing the MC5 made me aware the same
way John Paul Jones's bass taught me about sex. And soon 1969 ended and
things never were quite as good again with Heroine fucking everything
and everyone up. But for a while the whole world really did feel like
energy heaven. They really were that good!" (MC5
at Westfield High School, NJ)
4 Saturday / Article in Rolling Stone: one of these respected underground
journalists, Miller Francis Jr, would have declared that album KICK OUT
THE JAMS was a disaster.
15 Wednesday / Release of TONIGHT / LOOKING AT YOU
25 Saturday / MC5 at Narragansett's
First Tribal Rock Festival, Boston Garden, Boston, MA
Tom Brinkmann: "I had come to
see the MC5, who were the first of the kick-off bands, second being Mr.
Winter whom I also liked, then of course the main attraction for most,
Led Zeppelin, whose first album was the only one that had been released
at the time. As we were waiting for the show to start we couldn't help
but notice the group of bikers in the last couple rows of floor seats
directly in front of us, all wearing their colours. Memory doesn't serve
me as to what club it was, but it was not the Hell's Angels as stated
in the Boston Herald Tribune a day or so later.
The MC5 finally came out and kicked out the jams with a loud and fast
sound that got you moving. Rob Tyner, with characteristically permed Afro,
was bouncing all over the stage to the boogie beat! My friend had brought
a small Brownie Instamatic-type camera along, and was taking some photos
(which I never saw and don't even know if any ever came out). We were
both MC5 fans, but me more so than him. I got their first album after
hearing it at another friend's house. The copy I had heard belonged to
my friend's older brother, and it had the infamous "motherfucker" line
uncensored. By the time I bought my copy, the line had been changed to
"brothers and sisters". I also heard you could steam off the inside fold-out
sleeve where the original liner notes had been pasted over and censored
- which I promptly did. Lo and Behold! It was true and it worked! not
only did I become a member of the White Panther Party (at 14), but also
subscribed to the Ann Arbor Argus which was the local underground paper
from Michigan and mouth organ for the WPP and MC5.
During the MC5's set they "passed the hat" so to speak, for the John Sinclair
Legal Defence Fund and the WPP in general, while playing their "Pledge
Song" that can be heard on the Power Trip CD. They also played songs from
their up-coming LP Back In The USA. I was a happy camper! They could have
played Johnny's and Led Zep's sets as well and it would still have been
fine by me." (HDP) more...
"When they come on and get
in the middle of a song Robin Tyner, the main singer of the band, will sometimes
drop back and Wayne Kramer and Fred Smith, the two guitarists, will come
forward and stand parallel about 6 feet apart and do parallel actions.
Fred Smith may be wearing his white suit with the high-button coat and will
look mean as he plays mean and Wayne Kramer on the left side may wear his
tight black suit with his purple ruffled shirt billowing out between the
black lapels and he'll look and play mean also although he has wild, puffy,
curly hair and Fred has straight, stringy hair.
They both may come up and look to the left, hold the guitars at a certain
same angle and begin to bend over backwards in unison, doing a split, which
they may have a little bit of trouble with, but then they'll jump up, turn,
rocketing their fingers up the frets all the time looking mean together,
machine-gunning each other with their instruments and playing music that
is recognizable as coming from the ozone, if you recognize it at all."
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