Bong-Man Posted October 31, 2008 Share Posted October 31, 2008 http://www.freep.com/article/20081030/ENT0...TRd09KAJmuqI%3D Kick out the jams, again Local musicians pay tribute to Detroit's legendary MC5 BY ERIN PODOLSKY • FREE PRESS SPECIAL WRITER • October 30, 2008 Hard to believe, but it's been 40 years since the MC5's seminal debut, "Kick Out the Jams" was recorded at the Grande Ballroom in Detroit on Oct. 30 and 31, 1968. Easier to swallow is the "40 Years to the Day" tribute concert to the MC5's era that will rock out the Crofoot in Pontiac Thursday night with 17 local bands covering tunes from the likes of the MC5 and Bob Seger. The big local names include the Muggs, the Orbitsuns and Paper Street Saints, but the bill offers a host of other artists who fall into different genres as well. The show also functions as a release party for Dark Greene Entertainment's "Detroit Music Revolution: Rock and Roll Volume 1" covers CD. The evening will be emceed by John Sinclair, who famously served as the MC5's manager and firebrand. Around these parts, the MC5 shouldn't need an introduction. So we'll call this a reminder: Lording over the Detroit rock scene in the late '60s and the early '70s, and particularly the Grande Ballroom where it was essentially the house band, the MC5 was part of a generation of bands that drew attention away from Detroit's identity as the home of Motown and shifted it towards hard-driving, tripped-out rock with a huge dose of social activism -- of which "Kick Out the Jams" is seen as a high point. The group was joined by players such as Bob Seger, the Rationals, and the Stooges. MC5's influence still reverberates through the D (and around the globe) in myriad -- and sometimes nonmusical -- ways. "I actually live two doors down on Canfield from where the MC5 lived, in their drug dealer's house. Seriously," says Danny Methric of the Muggs. "There's a documentary about them, and Wayne Kramer drives down my street and points two houses down and says, 'That's where we lived,' and then he points to where I live and says, 'That's where my drug dealer Ham lived.' I keep going around, tapping the walls, thinking I'm going to find Ham's stash." We sought out the opinions of a latter-day five from bands participating in the Friday tribute, ranging from MC5 contemporary Scott Morgan -- who went on to play in Sonic's Rendezvous Band with MC5 member Fred Smith -- to post-generational fans like Mike Scott from Critical Bill. TERRY ALAN MARTIN plays bass for the downriver quartet Ray Street Park, hard rockers with a number of Detroit Music Awards nominations on their résumé. What the MC5 means to him: Musically, as far as our band is concerned, they didn't really have any kind of an influence on us. I would say that their biggest influence has been the spirit that the city used to have which revolved around them back in those days. The camaraderie, and how back in 1968, the MC5 spurred a movement. It was music, it was culture, it was the city coming back from the riots, and they were at the heart of it as far as a cultural movement. And I think that the things that we can take from that today are trying to improve the camaraderie as far as the hard rock scene in Detroit is concerned. Over the years, it's been so fragmented and a lot of opposition -- "My band's better than your band" -- that kind of crap. That's gone on in this city for years and getting back to the spirit that the MC5 fostered in '68 would be something that you could draw from them, and I think is one of the things that our band in particular has always tried to do. Where they fit in Detroit music history: They weren't groundbreaking musicians or anything like that. Like I said, I think the biggest thing that they had was they were effectual because they were so emotional. They were blood and guts and sweat and tears and it wasn't necessarily about their talent level, it was about the heart that they put into what they did. Every note that they played, those guys meant. Even if they weren't the most technically proficient kind of guys. ... It came from their soul. That's something you can't teach. You can't learn that. Favorite MC5 song: "Kick Out the Jams." DANNY METHRIC is guitarist for Detroit's much-beloved blues-rock trio the Muggs, which released sophomore album "On With the Show" in May. What the MC5 means to him: First and foremost, I definitely agree that they're the embodiment of the punk rock movement. There's a few bands that came out and embodied what true revolutionary punk rock was, and I think the MC5 were as influential, if not more, than the Sex Pistols, who showed up 10 years later with a radical message and a fierce sound. And I like that the MC5 represented Detroit and they talked about issues that really related to Detroit, but worldwide they're renowned. The Sex Pistols just had marketing behind them, as opposed to the MC5 who were true radicals. The Sex Pistols lasted, what, two, three years? The MC5 were true punks, the only band to show up to the Democratic National Convention (protest) in 1968. They backed up what they believed in. The Sex Pistols were just in-vogue punk and they lasted as long as the label wanted to push them forward. Where they fit in Detroit music history: To me, Stevie Wonder is the greatest songwriter who ever lived. Motown changed the world. As far as the MC5 goes, I'm trying to put into words what they did. I guess they added a soundtrack to a revolution; (whereas) some bands in Detroit were out for the pop-rock songwriting and were just fine songwriters and musicians, the MC5, they put a sound track to the enlightened revolution of '68 and '69. It's hard to put into words the kind of craziness that they put on wax. At the time that they did it, it was pretty revolutionary. Favorite MC5 song: "Over and Over." SCOTT MORGAN, who fronted the Rationals in the 1960s, now leads Powertrane, a throwback to the MC5 era that also features Robert Gillespie and relative youngsters Chris Taylor and Andy Frost. What the MC5 means to him: High energy rock 'n' roll. I played with Fred Smith for six years after the MC5 broke up. Initially I wanted to play with Wayne, because Wayne and I always engaged in a lot of conversation and Fred was kind of the strong, silent type. So I didn't really know him. But I ended up playing with Fred and we had a great band, Sonic's Rendezvous Band. I saw them play for the first time at Plymouth High School, around 1966. Somebody had told me to go see them and I did. And then I saw them again and they were like light-years better. They came to Ann Arbor and played a place called the Canterbury House and they were just on fire by that time. It was like seeing James Brown or something. They were pretty much a straight rhythm-and-blues rock band when I saw them in 1966. They hadn't gotten psychedelicized yet and I don't think they'd really done much with John Sinclair yet. So what you heard on that first recording at the Grande Ballroom in 1968, that was not what they sounded like when I first saw them at all. Where they fit in Detroit music history: It's hard to say anybody's No. 1. Because you've got Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels, the Stooges, the Rationals, Sonic's Rendezvous Band, you can make a pretty long list. And all the rhythm-and-blues stuff. I'm just talking about rock bands. I'm not even going there, Motown is a whole other animal, those guys were top-of-the-line everything. And there were non-Motown acts as well that were really good, jazz players from Detroit that ended up moving to New York because that's where all the opportunity was. I'd say there's maybe a half-dozen bands that you could put right at the top and they'd be one of them. Favorite MC5 song: "Sister Anne" or "Skunk (Sonically Speaking)." ELLIOT MOSES (ex-Kingsnakes) is the guitarist for Smokin' Moses, a band that brings together Detroit rockers Brandon Calhoon (who scored some fame on "Rock Star: INXS"), Dylan McCarty (son of Jim) and the inimitable Gary Rasmussen. What the MC5 means to him: To me, the MC5 is like a bar that's set as far as if you're going to play Detroit rock 'n' roll. It's gotta be that intense and taken as seriously as those cats took it. They always put everything they did into a show and it was always just to blow people's minds every time they played. The way they looked at it, when they played with those national acts like Cream at the Grande Ballroom, they always thought, "Yeah, we love you guys, but you're on our turf now. This is what we can do." That's what it was about, that's what a representation of real Detroit rock 'n' roll is supposed to be like. Where they fit in Detroit music history: I think they're just as relevant as anything Motown put out, for sure. In America, MC5 isn't regarded as a Led Zeppelin-type, but if you go to Scandinavia, you go to Europe, you go to Canada, MC5 is up there with Led Zeppelin and the Rolling Stones as being a rock 'n' roll icon for sure. I still feel like they didn't get what their due is still. I don't think they're even in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Around here, they do, but in America it's just like the whole rock 'n' roll scene -- America don't get it. But everywhere else they totally get it. Favorite MC5 song: "The American Ruse." MIKE SCOTT plays guitar for East side rap-rock quintet Critical Bill. What the MC5 means to him: The MC5, Iggy Pop, Alice Cooper, Bob Seger, that whole era was about music, it was about the scene, and it was about doing things out of the box. They didn't care, they weren't mainstream, they did what they wanted to do on their own terms. That's what made the Detroit scene in that era so incredible. It was all about the community. It's very comparable to what LA was in the '80s and Seattle was in the '90s. Except in Detroit these guys were so counterculture that everything they did was just for no other reason than that's exactly what they wanted to do at that point in time. And the MC5 were the leaders. They were the ones waving the flag of being whatever you wanted to be. They were the kings of independent music. They weren't really embraced by radio and press. It's like when you've got the characters that you had involved in all those groups, it's not like dealing with Justin Timberlake, who's this handsome, debonair young gentleman that speaks very eloquently and writes songs about Britney Spears. These guys were writing about partying and drugs and setting things on fire and it was just wonderful. Where they fit in Detroit music history: At the top. You have two very different parallel lines that were going on at the same time. You have Motown and then you have everything that was anti-Motown, anti-radio, antiestablishment. To me, that was more the attitude that Detroit conveys. I mean, Motown was phenomenal and the musicianship is undeniably some of the best ever, but that whole other stream of music, they influenced every rock band that has ever meant anything, from Mötley Crüe to Van Halen to Nirvana to Green Day to Metallica, you name it. I mean, Metallica did a Bob Seger cover. That's gotta mean something. Bob Seger isn't exactly death metal or thrash, but his songwriting and his spirit is what everyone embraced. Alice Cooper, are you kidding me? There would never be a Marilyn Manson if it wasn't for Alice Cooper, because he mixed theatrical experience with his audio and visual. You name it, if it wasn't for MC5 and the Stooges, everything we love now would be totally different. We'd probably be all at the New Kids on the Block concert. Favorite MC5 song: "Kick Out the Jams." Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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