What has become of the MC5 legacy? is some bitch from Friends or other tv crap show going to be the official band rep of the day? a hipster thing is it? reduced to a name, label listed off, in reference to: neo-proto (fake) garage rockers. yeah.
What would Rob Tyner think of the scene? It's been over ten years since his death (I think) and music, on popular, independent, underground, no-ground levels has shifted, changed for better or worse, as always the case. Rob had a magnificent voice, lacking parallels or even close comparisons to lame rock/punk/metal vocalists now. It was perfect for a range of music styles. I'm glad he chose to rock. When he belted and blasted through heavy backdrops of reverb, two unpredictable, flashy, Berry-esque to the point of parody axe-men, steady rock bass lines, and quick but powerful machine drum percussion puncuations, he was doing something new. It was great rock and roll, in the natural tradition/evolution of rockers, and music in general;it was untouched and untested, and it was the real thing in the right place at the right time. Neither the place nor time were good in themselves--the MC5 put the effort into making use of situation(s), and acting like absolute bad ass motherfuckers all at the same time. It is what they had to do to mark their name in the coveted annals of rock and roll lore.
But who/what has put on a ski mask reeking of some hip body perfume slithered on through the front gate and defaced/bastardized/sodomized the said annals? Oh what is real and true about our leather-clad heroes of a now-fading past? So much trash on so many levels distorts and makes it harder to gauge the true MC5. I wish i could've been to one of their shows. Get to walk around, get a good clear picture. All I see are stills and hear are (usually) half-realized, not fully indicative live renditions and hit-or-miss studio recordings. I try to imagine the band in a generic late sixties setting, maybe the Grande or an earlier scenario at some teen club. I surely can't imagine the MC5 existing on a popular level today. I have a superb imagination, you might be surprised.
Why can't I see the MC5 performing on the MTV Awards?...forming as teens, a few were friends, liked punk and some rock (Huey Louis and The News), go to Guitar Center and a couple pawn shops, practice on shit gear, learn simple rock technique through above-average determination, effort and interest, first gigs show promise, into high school develop, maturity, change of line-up, better gear and unique mix of cover songs and early compositions lead to some fan following, graduate and get record interest from demos and higher-profile gigs and luck. What is the result? A cheesey, confused and horrible group ala Good Charlotte or Sum 41 (er?). If there is anger, claims of protest and dissatisfaction or despair, they seem forced, unreal, fake, diluted, cheap. If there is energy, it just isn't right: White Stripes.
a few quotes from a Detroit news feature August 2 2003:
Wayne Kramer, interviewed: "After all, the true heir apparent of the MC5 is of course Eminem".
Is Rob Tyner "laughing his butt off"? Or has Kramer's befuddled mind gotten the best of him, now convinced he is actually relevant due to such pathetic homage paid?
Not much can be done about mass culture, especially, if not specifically, in the Western sense. If nothing is effective in creating a lasting and meaningful diversion from the present state of popular music, in particular, the horrible, often calculated and multiplying lunacy of the industry and it's 'creative' participants will never confront or reverse themselves, or go away. And groups ala MC5 will continue to have their memory desecrated by the likes of Carson Daly and Justin Timberlake (who's next?).
The MC5 catalog deserves attention and respect, offers a lot, and is backed up by many a good story (I bet those sitcom sluts sporting MC5 logos don't know a one). They will never die, along with the rest of great, hard driving, heartfelt gut rock and roll. The current slumbering sloth downer crap of a heavy music scene will pass, making way for a better form rooted, in a truer sense, to the essence of rock.
© 2003 by IAN FINES