Rolling Stone issue #25 had a cover date of January 4, 1969. 32 pages. 35 cents. Cover photo of the MC5’s Rob Tyner.
I hadn’t originally intended on continuing this series into 1969. By the end of 1968 Rolling Stone had firmly established its identity as the leading voice of the rock and roll generation. It was no longer the ramshackle underground newspaper that gave away roach clips to new subscribers. It was serious.
So it seemed like a good place to stop. But the January 4 issue has that glorious photo of Rob Tyner on the cover, and well…it looks like I’ll be doing more of these after all. 1969 was a pretty exciting year and Rolling Stone was there to cover it.
It’s a shame more of this content isn’t available online. Eric Ehrmann’s MC5 cover story, published before their debut album was released, is hilarious in all its myth-making, jive-talking hagiography.
News: “No More Traffic; Winwood-Clapton Rumors” by Ritchie Yorke; “God Save The Cream” by Jonathan Cott; “Your Ears Are In Good Hands”; “Janis Joplin’s New ‘Revue'”; “Jools [Julie Driscolll] Denied Work Permit”; “Family Dog Shot Down.”
Columns: Perspectives by Ralph J. Gleason (“It Ain’t Really Funny” on the Man coming down on the Kids: “there are more people out there in the boonies than are covered by our philosophy…”); Books by John Grissim, Jr. (Hunter S. Thompson’s Hells Angels and Frank Reynolds’ Freewheelin’ Frank); Cinema by John Luce (Jean-Luc Godard’s Weekend); “Pardon Us, But It’s Christmas” (a note about how they’re skipping an issue because the printer is closed on Christmas Day — printing takes places three and a half weeks before the issue’s cover date); Random Notes on Allen Ginsberg, the Rolling Stones, the Beatles, Motown, Arthur Brown, Bing Crosby, and a disgruntled message about Vox guitars and amplifiers:
Brother Wayne has been digging up and posting some very cool MC5 footage on YouTube. This clip is from a show at the Borough Assembly Hall in Aylesbury, England on Friday, February 11, 1972.
From the very cerebral British flyer for the gig: “The MC5 are America’s heaviest underground band and are famous for really laying it down with … a really exciting and visual show.”
Also on the bill was Skin Alley and Willy Barrett.
Fee for the concert was 65p!
A rare sighting of Fred in his Sonic Smith Suit!
What a band!
And now this fall Kramer and some friends will be celebrating the 50th anniversary of the release of Kick Out the Jams with a tour called MC50. The lineup features Kim Thayil (Soundgarden, guitar), Brendan Canty (Fugazi, drums), Dug Pinnick (King’s X, bass), and Marcus Durant (Zen Guerrilla, vocals).
Unfortunately the only other surviving member of the original 5, Dennis “Machinegun” Thompson will not be there. Kramer clarified, “Dennis Thompson was indeed invited to participate in a series of @MC50th shows on this ‘Kick Out the Jams’ celebration tour. He has declined the invitation. As always, we respect his decision and we wish him health and happiness.”
MC5 - Beat Club Recording Sessions: Bremen, Germany 1972
This footage is amazing. It’s from the weird time right after they had kicked out original bassist Michael Davis. They were in Europe promoting their third and final (and best) album, High Times, although they don’t play anything from that record in this clip, filmed for the German television show Beat-Club. They had been dumped by their record label, and their former manager John Sinclair was accusing them of being greedy junky sellouts. Things were not looking good for the Five. And yet…
Watch this footage!
Everything great about rock and roll is here on display. Sonic Smith’s furry hat, Machine Gun Thompson’s Norton Motorcycles t-shirt, Wayne Kramer’s dehydrated pastiness…I mean, come on! Even fill-in bassist Steve (“Steev”) Moorhouse looks cool. But nobody can get anywhere close to the glory of Rob Tyner with his fantastically crazy teeth, magnificent afro, and face dripping with sweat even before he counts in the band with his famous “Kick out the jams, motherfuckers!”
This nine-minute extended freakout version of their greatest hit (peaked at #82 in 1969) goes off into jazzy weirdness before coming back around again with Kramer and Smith intertwining guitar leads, getting as funkadelic in their own way as Eddie Hazel and Garry Shider.
They play five songs in total over two separate sessions (clearly differentiated by the new shirts in “Ramblin’ Rose” and “Black To Comm”). The total running time is under 30 minutes and although it would great to have even more, this is really enough to prove that the MC5 is still grossly underrated despite all the praise they get from people like us.
This looks awesome. I love that the trailer uses the Bob Seger System‘s “Heavy Music.” De-fucking-troit!
The filmmakers’ Facebook page claims a release date of Summer 2010, but they also say they “have more scheduled interviews in early 2010,” so we’ll see. Let’s hope this one has better luck than the ill-fated MC5 documentary, A True Testimonial.
I must admit: I got very, very drunk Saturday night. I went to see a couple of local bands who are somehow associated with the Dandy Warhols and ended up mostly incoherent in the back of a cab stinking of gin and Voodoo Donuts. But just before everything went south (and maybe because of it) I saw my new favorite local band: 1776.
Comprised of four young dudes with tasty vintage gear and excellent hair, 1776 enthusiastically pulls from their influences the best kind of psychedelic rock that is as much MC5 as the Buffalo Springfield. Guitarist and vocalist Nigel Legerwood bangs away on a Danelectro 12-string while bassist Zach Whitton keeps the entire troupe anchored with Rick Danko-inspired bass lines and (again) a fantastic mop of hair.
Portland is home to many-a-psyche rock wannabe band who have probably spent too much time watching Dig! And not enough time listening to The Notorious Bird Brothers (I’m talking to you, The Upsidedown), but 1776 has clearly dug deeper and I’m excited to see how they freak out over time.
Sorry, boys, she’s no longer available. According to the Detroit Free Press, Meg White is getting married. Who’s the lucky guy? Turns out it’s none other than Detroit rock royalty: Jackson Smith, son of Patti Smith and the MC5‘s Fred “Sonic” Smith.
Smith, who grew up in St. Clair Shores, was 12 when his father died in 1994. He moved with his mother two years later to New York City, returning to Michigan after high school and impressing local music fans with his intuitive guitar talent.
White and Smith, who became close last summer, are known around town as private but personable figures. They live together in White’s Detroit home, and got engaged several weeks ago.
Congratulations to the happy couple! The date is set for May 22 in Nashville. We’ll be watching the mailbox for our invitation.
Detroit Tango publishes the United States District Court’s Findings Of Fact And Conclusions Of Law (along with some pointed commentary) in the case that prevented the MC5 documentary, A True Testimonial, from being distributed.
The gist: the judge ruled in favor of the filmmakers.
The Honorable Andrew J. Guilford, United States District Judge, issued his ruling on March 31, 2007. My favorite “fact” is this one:
31. Defendants were first-time filmmakers who spent eight years of their lives trying to create a documentary film that would be historically truthful, a documentary that would celebrate the talent and creativity of the MC5 band, a documentary that would say something about the 60’s, and would say something about the present. They succeeded, and the film merits wide distribution for the enjoyment and edification of the masses.
I’ve seen the movie and I wholeheartedly agree with Judge Guilford: it deserves to be seen. Let’s hope everyone involved can set aside their differences and get this movie out to the people who need to see it. Hey Rhino, make it happen!
Like everyone who cares about real rock and roll, Glorious Noise loves the MC5. When it comes to good old sloppy punk rock, the MC5 pretty much wrote the book. Or at lease one of the early chapters. So when we missed the American leg of the first reunion tour of the surviving members (Wayne Kramer, Dennis Thompson and Michael Davis), we were disappointed. There was no other recourse than to fly to Europe to catch one of those dates. You gotta do what you gotta do.