I first learned/heard about the MC5 in Rolling Stone magazine, which as I recall ran a long story about John Sinclair, the martyred leader of the White Panthers who was imprisoned for possession of two sticks of Motor City tea and having grand ideas about freedom and equality that apparently scared the crap out of the cops and their bosses.
I just went looking for that story, to see how much my memory was playing tricks, and found instead this review by Lester Bangs of the first MC5 album for Rolling Stone, which captures his sense of the hype and situation. His lede:
Whoever thought when that dirty little quickie Wild in the Streets came out that it would leave such an imprint on the culture? First the Doors (who were always headed in that direction anyway) grinding out that famous “They-got-the-guns-but-we-got-the-numbers” march for the troops out there in Teenland, and now this sweaty aggregation. Clearly this notion of violent, total youth revolution and takeover is an idea whose time has come — which speaks not well for the idea but ill for the time.
Later in the review Bangs says that the song Kick Out The Jams is like Barrett Strong’s Money as if recorded by the Kingsman, as if that was a bad thing.
Yeah, that Bangs MC5 review is pretty famous. We all can’t be right all of the time.
Surely you’ve seen this (skip to 5:30 – the rest is boring):
It was this that got me onto that. I was going to post it, but thought most of it wasn’t of general interest. In other words, I’m never bored.
She gives Fred his due. Notice on this that Wayne is playing through an Orange. It’s an old amp. They have one at the Blasting Room and most of the guitar players prefer it. I like the Floor Pod imitation of the 1952 Fender Deluxe Reverb, at least for my guitar. My boy Johnny Er has a ’56 Les Paul Special, he was here this weekend and we laid down some tracks, he likes Marshalls but he liked the Fender better too. They snarl just as much but have more definition when playing chords, when you’re playing really loud which we like to do.
I’ve never seen that and boy, is it great. Random notes:
1) What a great live performance. Love the raw, live “getting ready” stuff. Then they kick in. So tight!
2) The other live versions of this song I’ve seen are rushed as hell, as most bands do live. Love this pulled back tempo. It almost swings.
3) Wonder what those Orange amps would sell for today?
4) Rob Tyner is right below Jagger as an on-stage dancer.
5) Wayne Kramer seems like such a likeable guy. Can’t say there’s a lead guitarist I like better either.
6) Dig the little confederate flag on the bass amp. So contradictory to what they were about. Just a sign of rebellion, I guess. Like the punks with the iron cross and swastika.
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