Posts Tagged ‘Kick Out The Jams’

MC5 were one of the most radical bands of the ’60s. Their first album, the live Kick Out the Jams, committed some of the most energetic and aggressive performances of any musicians to record. The band, which formed in Detroit in 1964, influenced how everything from punk to metal to hard rock has sounded over the past half-century. For that alone, they deserve a spot in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Their live album Kick Out the Jams opens with singer Rob Tyner encouraging the audience to join the “revolution.” Even if the revolution didn’t happen while they played,  the band meant what it said. The members all had ties to the White Panther Party (their “manager,” John Sinclair, was a founding member) and performed concerts in protest of the Vietnam War. They even played at the infamous 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago.

While MC5 may not have been the first band to say the word “fuck” on an album, they definitely used it most effectively. The song “Kick Out the Jams” starts with a rallying cry by Rob Tyner to “Kick out the jams, motherfuckers!” Those famous words complement the relentless proto-punk assault found on the rest of the album.

MC5’s first studio album, 1970’s Back in the USA, predicted the affection for late-‘50s and early ’60s rock ‘n’ roll that punk groups like the Ramones celebrated years later. The 11-song album is only 28 minutes long (this was 1970, a time when 28 minutes would have been about normal for one track by other underground artists) and features short covers of Chuck Berry and Little Richard songs. Their live performances were even closer to punk; onstage, the band encouraged audiences to join them in political protest, all the while creating some of the most abrasive music of its time. Many punk bands cite them as an influence. Guitarist Wayne Kramer’s drug charges are even mentioned in the Clash’s “Jail Guitar Doors.”

Aside from his vocal talents, singer Rob Tyner was known for his awesome hair. Tyner had one of the largest afros in 1969. When coupled with the eclectic fashion of the late ’60s, all the members created a strong image on and off stage.

More than 50 years later, the group’s surviving members (guitarist Wayne Kramer and drummer Dennis Thompson) continue to perform. The band has reunited a few times, though each reunion had been cut short by the death of a member. Kramer, along with British singer-songwriter Billy Bragg, worked together on the Jail Guitar Doors Initiative — named after the Clash song that referenced Kramer — which provides instruments to inmates. In 2018, Kramer spearheaded the MC50 tour that included members of Soundgarden and Fugazi, among others.

MC5 – (Motor City 5) Motorcity is burning 1969

MC5 only released three albums, but they were ferocious, adventurous, and confrontational enough to secure the group’s place as one of the greatest rock ’n’ roll bands ever. Singer Rob Tyner, guitarists Wayne Kramer and Fred “Sonic” Smith, bassist Michael Davis, and drummer Dennis Thompson came together as the MC5 in 1965. The band performed for several years before making its first record. This year is the 50th anniversary of the recording of the band’s incendiary debut, Kick Out The Jams, which was recorded live over two nights at Detroit’s Grande Ballroom in October 1968.

To celebrate, MC5 release Total Assault: 50th Anniversary Collection, a limited-edition boxed set that features all three of the band’s albums pressed on coloured vinyl. It includes Kick Out The Jams (red vinyl), Back In The USA (white vinyl) and High Time (blue vinyl). The albums come in sleeves that faithfully re-create the original releases, including gatefolds for Kick Out The Jams and High Times. All three are housed in a hard slipcase with new art and previously unseen photographs by world renowned photographer Raeanne Rubenstein. The music on Total Assault shows why the MC5 is held is such high regard today with indelible tracks like Kick Out The Jams, Human Being Lawnmower and Sister Anne.

The set also includes a new essay by Creem magazine founding editor/writer and Uncut contributor Jaan Uhelszki, who writes: “Turned loose on a bare stage, the MC5 were among the most awe-inspiring perpetrators of sheer bombast and rock and roll brinkmanship alive… They tore through the stuff they heard on the radio with a fierce intensity that transcended the original artists’ intent. Tunes by James Brown, Chuck Berry, the Kinks and the Rolling Stones vibrated at a higher frequency when the Motor City Five tackled them.”

MC5 co-founder and guitarist Wayne Kramer will release his memoir The Hard Stuff: Dope, Crime, the MC5, and My Life of Impossibilities on August 14th before hitting the road with a new all-star line-up of MC5 called MC50. The group will perform Kick Out The Jams in its entirety, along with other MC5 classics.

 

mc5 The 50 Albums That Shaped Punk Rock

It takes quite a bit of confidence to record a debut album live, but when you have the raw power of MC5, you don’t worry about messing around. That’s especially true when you’re living the grit and grind of Detroit while the rest of the world is focused on the flower power movement out on the West Coast. Iggy Pop took his stage name after witnessing an MC5 show, which should tell you all you need to know: If it’s good enough to influence Iggy, it’s punk royalty. Between Rob Tyner’s screams and Wayne Kramer and Fred “Sonic” Smith’s guitars, the MC5 laid out a blueprint for blue-collar punks everywhere.

Forget flower-power, the crash-bang throttle of the first 10 minutes of the MC5’s debut made garage-rockers of the era sound weak and tentative by comparison. “I wanna hear some revolution out there,” unapologetically militant singer Rob Tyner, quoting Eldridge Cleaver, screams. And while not everyone was ready for revolution — writing for Rolling Stone in 1969, Lester Bangs said the Motor City 5 used noise and aggression to “conceal a paucity of ideas.” — history shows the album pushing underground rock towards an aggression precipice. It’s quaint to think of now, but the opening command — “Kick out the jams, motherfuckers!” so riled the band’s label, Elektra Records, that the company prepared both edited and unedited versions. Peter Doggett reports in his book There’s a Riot Going On: Revolutionaries, Rock Stars and the Rise and Fall of ’60s Counter-Culture that an unedited batch went to the retail chain Hudson’s. When they sent back the stock and refused to stock either version, the band had an even more choice message to them in a series of national ads: “Fuck Hudson’s!”