By Art Johnson

"I'm a businessman now," John Sinclair would say in his hawking farmer's baritone, and we'd all guffaw.
Ex-convict, three-time loser, beatnik days poet and jazz critic, Sinclair had taken to hanging around with Rob Tyner and his grizzly Motor City Five. Coming home late at night from the Fifth Estate office back in '68, i could hear the Five blasting the primitive atonality into the glass-littered streets outside what was then their home, the Artist's Workshop. Their only fans were greasy bike outlaws and fugitive dope addicts.
They couldn't get hired then - even as Bill Graham refuses to hire them now - because of their reputation as rabblerousers. Their organ was the much busted SUN newspaper. They played at benefits in the streets with black jazz innovators like the Pig Fuckers and the Joseph Jarman trio: the Five's music was born with, rather than "influenced by", the revolutionary jazz associated with Detroiters like Elvin Jones, Yusef Lateef, Barry Harris.
During the second civil war in Detroit, while me and my buddies roared up 8 mile in our channeled Harley-Davidsons, lights out, swigging contraband liquor, whites and blacks together were fighting the 101st airborne (from Vietnam) in our streets and alleys. Machine gun fire crackled through the burning nights, and the MC5 were exposed to the kind of violence which made Chicago of last summer look like a student protest: where "hard" groups like the Fugs and Country Joe withered, the Five were kickin out the jams in Lincoln Park, and Norman Mailer gasped for breath, describing them as "the beast in all nihilism".
After the insurrection, no one ever really put the lid back on Detroit. There were late at night echoes of sniper fire in the ghetto. Anarchy fomented in the 8 to 5 armpit of the Mechanical Bride. Dynamite and guns could be had from the Renegades and Outlaws, when they weren't bashin' each others' toothless brains in at the 400 bar on John R.
The Five were perpetually at war, this time with the Mafia of Plum Street, now with the West Virginia rednecks who sopped up beer at the C&W saloons of Third Street, and always with the cops: the history of the Five's commune, Trans Love Energies, is the history of midnight firebombings, extradition, police-infiltration, weird alliances with motorcycle gangs and block revolutionaries.
In the city which the Guardian in a five page story last week described as having "the most important revolutionary action in the country", Sinclair formed the White Panthers, the underground arm of the Five's philosophy. Not long afterward began a series of draft board and CIA office bombings. The "mad bomber", running down the Panther line, gave interviews to the Fifth Estate in which he lectured to his next victims.
Motor City Madness is what they call it. It was around before "revolution" became vogue to talk (and sing) about: our fathers used to open their shirts and show us their scars from the epochal '43 race riot.
The Five, who have a total of one and a half of higher education between them , are raw alienation. When i heard them a the Straight last week, half the audience was paralyzed and the other half were groping themselves. 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 paleocybernetic culture in action". They bombard your sensed from every angle; the drawback with their album (Elektra 74042) 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."
"Kick Out The Jams" is the most revolutionary - in form and content - album to ever hit the streets. Sinclair, in his capacity as Minister of Information of the White Panthers, says in the liner notes, "The MC5 are totally committed to revolution, just as revolution is totally committed to driving people out of their separate shells and into each other's arms... We are a lonely desperate people, pulled apart by the killer forces of capitalism and competition, and we need the music to hold us together... Go wild! The world is your! Take it and be one with it!"
One ad the Five were running (till Elektra spotted it) ran: "Kick out the jams, motherfucker, and if the store won't sell you the MC5 kick the doors down. Fuck Hudson's."
Like most record stores, Hudson's in Detroit won't carry the album. A few stores have been busted for selling it.
Says Sinclair: "Jac Holzman (of Elektra) got fucked over by the industry, the distributors, the d.j.'s and the police for backing us. According to an article i read today, Elektra is changing the liner notes. They're scared. They don't know what's goin' on. Holzman came crying on my shoulder, and i told him we knew people would get up-tight."
When Janis Joplin is playing Carnegie Hall, brothers, the Five will still be jamming free in the streets.


"Get Down! Get Down! Kick Out The Jams , Motherfucker!"
Wednesday night Finnish Hall became sole property of the people. Joint everywhere. Porny flics on the ceiling. Beer and wine downstairs. a thousand stones freaks swallow hard to save their eardrums. The MC- 5, fresh from the San Francisco jail, now in Berkeley.
They are loud - unbelievably loud. And berserk. People are stunned. Power? Music? Energy? Fuck the definitions man, it just feels good!
Can't you see?
 B U S T !   

The MC5 blasted their way out of the grease pits of FoCoMo city, resolved their feud with the Motherfuckers of New York's lower east side, and wound up in the San Francisco jailhouse this week after a near street-fight with the TACs.
The Five and eleven other friends of the White Panthers were rolling down the Bayshore Freeway in the early hours of Tuesday morning, doin' their usual thing when a squad of TACs busted them for speeding, drunk driving, the possession of marijuana and other dangerous drugs, overloading a stationwagon, contributing to the delinquency of, fucking, and otherwise violating minors, and assault.
In the scuffle that followed, White Panther Jerry Younkins was almost pushed over the guardrail of the skyway by pigs who taunted: "Who would they believe punk, you or me?".
Rhythm guitarist Fred Smith had the shit kicked out of him by two leather-gloved TACs.
White Panther Minister of Information and manger of the Five, John Sinclair, was in another vehicle and escaped across the bridge to Berkeley. Sinclair is currently being tried in Detroit for the sale and possession of narcotics, his third offense. If convicted, he faces a minimum of twenty years to life.
At their arraignment Wednesday, the charges were reduced to driving while drinking alcohol, and resisting arrest. The Motor City Five, who have been playing in the streets of San Francisco/Berkeley, will be playing in Fort Lauderdale on March 31st with Chuck Berry and Creedence Clearwater at the Pop Festival there.

KICKIN' OUT THE JAMBS Photo: Emil Bacilla