The MC5 were an American rock band from Lincoln Park, Michigan, formed in 1964. The original band line-up consisted of vocalist Rob Tyner, guitarists Wayne Kramer and Fred "Sonic" Smith, bassist Michael Davis, and drummer Dennis Thompson. "Crystallizing the counterculture movement at its most volatile and threatening", according to AllMusic critic Stephen Thomas Erlewine, the MC5's far left political ties and anti-establishment lyrics and music positioned them as emerging innovators of the punk movement in the United States. Their loud, energetic style of back-to-basics rock 'n' roll included elements of garage rock, hard rock, blues rock, and psychedelic rock.
MC5 had a promising beginning which earned them a January 1969 cover appearance in Rolling Stone and a story written by Eric Ehrmann before their debut album was released. They developed a reputation for energetic and polemical live performances, one of which was recorded as their 1969 debut album Kick Out the Jams. Their initial run was short-lived, though. In 1972, just years after their debut record, the band came to an end. MC5 was often cited as one of the most important American hard rock groups of their era.ick Out the Jams" is widely covered.
Tyner died of a heart attack in late 1991 at the age of 46. Smith also died of a heart attack, in 1994 at the age of 45. The remaining three members of the band reformed in 2003 with The Dictators' singer Handsome Dick Manitoba as its new vocalist, and this reformed line-up occasionally performed live over the next nine years until Davis died of liver failure
Live at the Ancienne Belgique, Brussels, Belgium, February 24, 2005. Very good soundboard.
They told you in school about freedom
But when you try to be free they never let ya
They said “it’s easy , nothing to it”
And now the army’s out to get ya
Sixty nine America in terminal stasis
The air’s so thick it’s like drowning in molasses
I’m sick and tired of paying these dues
And i’m finally getting hip to the American ruse
I learned to say the pledge of allegiance
Before they beat me bloody down at the station
They haven’t got a word out of me since
I got a billion years probation
- The American Ruse (MC5)
‘We wrote a song a long time ago about a time in America when there was a war going on and we didn’t like it. And today there is a war going on and we don’t like it,” guitarist Wayne Kramer says before the band dives into The American Ruse.
The song, The American Ruse, appeared on the MC5’s second album, Back In The USA, in 1970. At that time the United States were stuck in the Vietnam War and MC5 were already at the forefront protesting against the war. Thirty-five years later, the United States is stuck in Iraq and Afghanistan and the remaining members of MC5 - Wayne Kramer, Dennis Thompson and Michael Davis - are on a European tour as DKT/MC5, the group now augmented by Handsome Dick Manitoba (Dictators), Gilby Clarke (Guns N’ Roses) and Lisa Kekaula (Basement Jaxx), and they still have that protest fire in their belly.
Detroit’s MC5 were alternative before there was an alternative and they were punk before the movement took hold. While many critics call them protopunks, in an interview, Kramer said: “I think if there’s one thing the punks picked up from us, it was our do-it-yourself ethic - that you don’t have to follow the program, and you don’t have to wait until society says it’s okay to do your thing.”
With Handsome Dick sounding like a clean-cut Jello Biafra and Lisa Kekaula strutting out the blues (after all MC5 had no problem mixing rock/punk and jazz), the band ran through a greatest-hits package that showed that musically they still got the chops and, more importantly, they still have the balls and that political sting.
01. Ramblin’ Rose
02. I Can Give You Everything
04. Call Me Animal
05. Sister Anne
06. High School
07. The American Ruse
08. Motor City Is Burning
09. Over & Over Pt 1
10. Over & Over Pt 2
11. Shakin’ Street
12. Lookin’ At You
13. Miss X
14. The Human Being Lawnmower
15. Kick Out The Jams
16. I Believe To My Soul
01. Rama Lama Fa Fa Fa
03. Skunk [Coogee Bay ‘04]
04. Future/Now [Melbourne ‘04]
05. I Want You Right Now [Melbourne ‘04]
06. Teenage Lust [Melbourne ‘04]
Wayne Kramer - guitar
Dennis Thompson - drums
Michael Davis - bass
Lisa Kekaula - vocals
Gilby Clarke - guitar
Handsome Dick Manitoba - vocals