9 thoughts on “Night Music: The Forging of Fred Smith and the MC5

  1. this is really good and interesting.

    I confess to not really knowing any of the MC5 catalog. never exposed, though I ‘spect it was largely a regional thing. MC5 did not get airplay here, just like Thunders and even the Dolls didn’t. I didn’t even know the Dolls save by name till Johansen came out with that first solo album that had Frenchette on it (I think).

    I know there were bay area bands (loading zone, linn county, even moby grape to a degree) that were huge around here and not as big on the other side of the country.

    just never heard the MC’s, in fact I always wondered about the Patti Smith attachment. although, when I saw her a couple of years ago, she introduced “because the night” by shyly saying she wrote it for her boyfriend. it was actually pretty sweet.

    anyway, time for a journey through some MC5 catalog.


  2. Although I’m way too young for the job, I’m probably the resident MC5 expert.

    1) The movie is MC5 – A True Testimonial. The movie has been mired in legal hassle for years and years. Months ago I broke down and watched the whole thing on youtube, wrote a Remnants post about how great it was and Gene watched it too. The whole thing isn’t on youtube anymore, no doubt pulled down by people still hoping to release the movie. You can buy it on DVD from Amazon for $160. Bizarre but true. Peter, you missed your chance, at least for now.

    2) Lawr, unfortunately I think the MC5 albums are really spotty. Great stuff shares the platter with boring, awful stuff. I think the best album, almost by far, is “Back In The USA” which is mostly two-minute pop ditties, not exactly their schtick (some people think “USA” is a disaster) but definitely the most easy-listening and still rockin’ as hell IMHO. Gene defined the Hellacopters as extracting the pure rock element of the MC5 without all the other stuff and I totally agree. If you want MC5 without the bullshit, the ‘Copters is the place to go, especially since the MC5 “official” catalog is just three albums.

    • I agree that the albums are spotty but I’d still vote for the first one. Gotta get Kick Out The Jams and Ramblin Rose in there somewhere. Their ballads are pretty bad but I don’t mind the noise/jazz stuff when I’m in the mood, which is not every day…And BTW, Lester Bangs changed his mind on the 5, as he did on their “little brother” band the Stooges. They must sound better on Romilar.

    • I either missed Steve’s post or saw the price tag and didn’t give it another thought. Here’s the YouTube reaction to the link:

      But we know it does.

  3. I’m with Gene on Kick Out the Jams, which I just listened too while making dinner, my daughter nearby doing her homework. I think it helped the educational process, motherfuckers!

    But I don’t know the other records as well because I never owned ’em. I have a copy of Kick in the basement.

    The space stuff is goofy, as is all their blues rock, but I can listen to that album without a flinch. I’m going to have to test Blue Cheer later tonight.

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