MC5 to get to the middle of the week. Unfortunately, by the time of this appearance in Paris in what was a live session for Radio/TV, the band was heading into the final stretch. Bassist Michael Davis would be out as of February, and their previous two albums, Back In The USA and High Times were commercial disasters for Atlantic and would soon see them dropped from the label.
But MC5 proved, in the long run, to be one of the most influential and referred-to bands all through the late 1970s, 80s and 90s. Considered one of the early cornerstones of Punk (without being actually Punk themselves), not to mention a huge influence on Iggy Pop, Patti Smith (who was married to Fred “Sonic” Smith up until his death in 1994), The Ramones and a veritable who’s who of bands that made the late 70s memorable and later found the essence of the band tucked into the folds of Grunge.
It really was their first album, Kick Out The Jams that hit everyone hard. First off – “Kick Out The Jams, Motherfuckers” was immediately cause for banning from the radio, forcing a pallid alternative family-friendly single version “Kick Out The Jams, Brothers and Sisters”; score one big point. Another Big Point was that their first album was live, and one of the best sounding live albums at the time. Elektra (their first label) hit on the idea of making their debut a live album because they were sensational in a live concert context. The 60s, via some areas of limited technology of the time, proved that some bands just didn’t translate in the studio what they could do on stage. And MC5 amply proved that. Kick Out The James is one of the most visceral, in-your-face/go-for-the-throat albums ever to came out in the 1960s. And it became an instant cult classic – not only did everybody have to have the version with “motherfuckers” in it, they also wanted it to play at maximum volume on their stereos so everybody in the neighborhood could hear.
That they were also one of the first up-front political bands was also huge at the time. Prior to MC5, most political statements came by way of singer-songwriters/folk artists – a band that made the walls buckle AND carry a political message was perfect for the 60s.
I only wish this tape was made in 1968. But that it’s around at all is something of a miracle. Not many live recordings (in halfway decent sound) have surfaced over the years. So anything that comes along is treasured.
As was MC5.