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Bong-Man

MC5 Movie is Ready to Roll

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http://www.detnews.com/article/20110319/ENT04/103190308/1424/ENT04/Film-on-rockers-MC5-ready-to-roll

Film on rockers MC5 ready to roll

Legal issues resolved, but backers short of $27K needed to use music

Susan Whitall / Detroit News Music Writer

Seven years after the highly regarded "MC5: A True Testimonial" film was withdrawn from release, the embattled documentary that captures the volatile 1960s music scene in Detroit through the story of 1960s rockers the MC5 might see a commercial release after all.

The legal and music publishing issues that led to the film's demise have been largely resolved; all that remains is to raise $27,000 for a synch license from Warner Chappell Publishing to use the MC5's songs in the film.

A Kickstarter page was launched to solicit contributions (and offer a special bonus); as of late afternoon Friday $2,445 had been raised, with 51 days to go (see sidebar).

Laurel Legler and David C. Thomas, the Chicago-based producer and director, respectively, interviewed surviving members of the MC5, their spouses and many others. The "testimony" of those participants was cut in with exciting live footage of the band to create a stirring portrait of the short-lived but highly influential "5."

"There's a lot of people who are into the band, but there's a lot of history they never knew, a lot of ups and downs that you see in the movie. There are a lot of good life lessons in there," says Jackson Smith, the guitarist son of the MC5's Fred "Sonic" Smith and Patti Smith.

"The live footage is extraordinary. It's the rock show at its absolute best: highly refined chaos," wrote Ben Ratliff in the New York Times. John Patterson of Britain's "The Guardian" was equally effusive. "MC5: A True Testimonial puts the music into its local, cultural and political context, and one understands the thinking much more clearly," he wrote. "You can fling 95% of all other rockumentaries into the furnace — if we can just get to keep this one."

The release, of course, depends upon raising the $27,000. "We'll concentrate on getting the license first, and then we'll explore doing some screenings," said Freddie Brooks, a Detroit music producer and longtime friend and associate of MC5 guitarist Fred "Sonic" Smith. From there, it's hoped that a new national distribution deal would be secured.

"Once people know the film is back, I'm fairly certain there will be renewed interest in the DVD rights," Brooks said. "It's more than about the band, it's about a really significant part of American history."

So many copies went out to critics back in 2003 that inevitably, bootleg copies leaked onto the Internet. But fans are hoping the many hours of additional MC5 footage that turned up after the film was completed might be added as bonus material to a DVD.

Rob Tyner, Wayne Kramer, Fred "Sonic" Smith, Michael Davis and Dennis "Machinegun" Thompson were working class suburban kids, mostly from Lincoln Park, who came together over a few years to ultimately become the "Motor City Five."

That name was soon abbreviated, and as the MC5 they became the much-loved house band at Detroit's legendary Grande Ballroom, famous for shutting down headlining British groups like the Who, who found it almost impossible to follow their intensity.

The MC5 were signed to a national record contract by Elektra Records in 1969. Their explosive live album "Kick Out the Jams," named after their roiling theme song, created the sonic template from which punk and metal bands still draw inspiration.

But the band's subversive lyrics and ties to revolutionary politics caused trouble with the authorities, as well as dissension within the group. As the idealism of the '60s morphed into paranoia and drug abuse, discord within the group led it to disband in the early '70s.

Lead singer Tyner died in 1991, and guitarist Smith died in 1994. The surviving members of the MC5 reunited to tour for a time as DKT-MC5.

swhitall@detnews.com

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27 grand isn't that much. Is there a place to donate? Trust me folks, I was privileged to have seen the"Five" many times live, and there were very few groups that had the raw energy this band had. Even on bad nights, when the equipment fucked up or the guitars were out of tune, they never stopped giving it their all.

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ABOUT TIME! I've seen it, but will happily buy a DVD copy and wear it to death.

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I didn't even remember about that INfamous demise......I hope all the truth about the White / Black Panthers and Sinclair come out POLITICALLY CORRECT....I have my serious doubts in this revolting RIGHT-WING SOCIETY WE'RE LIVING IN:(:(

Edited by spidersandsnakes

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27 grand isn't that much. Is there a place to donate? Trust me folks, I was privileged to have seen the"Five" many times live, and there were very few groups that had the raw energy this band had. Even on bad nights, when the equipment fucked up or the guitars were out of tune, they never stopped giving it their all.

Might try either the Kickstarter: "MC5 - A True Testimonial" Jailbreak page or the newly operative MC5 - A True Testimonial site.

There's also an interesting and informative explanation of the film situation on the Blurt site that includes this salient point:

Nearly lost in the firestorm, but frequently acknowledged by pretty much everyone no matter what side of the personal and legal divide they found themselves on, was that the documentary was just fucking killer. That's something I heard over and over in my on- and off-record conversations with the principals, and most if not all of them expressed concern, if not outright pessimism, over the film's ultimate fate - that it might never see an official release and thereby pass into the public record as a chronicle of one of America's greatest-ever bands.

This film deserves to be unleashed, it's a fantastic documentary and the filmmakers busted their rear ends to make it happen. For that they've been rewarded by being devastated financially by all the roadblocks and lame BS.

Talk about no good deed going unpunished...

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