Thursday, September 13, 2012

AccuRadio Song Of The Day-MC5

Song:Looking For You
Album:The Big Bang: Best of the MC5

Though not commercially successful at the time, MC5 along with The Stooges were important bridges from the psychedelic music of the 60s to the punk music of the 70s. Interestingly, both bands were from Detroit. If MC5 had been able to stay out of trouble and get radio airplay, they might have had a longer shelf life. But in their prime, they only made three albums. Guitarists Wayne Kramer and Fred "Sonic" Smith were friends in high school but they led different bands. When those bands split up, the two joined forces to form the Motor City 5 which was shortened to MC5. Lead singer Rob Derminer started as the band's manager but changed his name to Rob Tyner (after jazz pianist McCoy Tyner) and joined the band. After some personnel changes, Michael Davis was on bass and Dennis Thompson was on drums. Unlike most garage bands of that era, MC5 were heavily influenced by free jazz and were interested in subversive political activity. As they built a fanbase first in Detroit and then in the east coast, an article in Rolling Stone got the attention of Danny Fields of Elektra Records. MC5 and The Stooges were signed at the same time. Looking At You was released in 1968 before they signed with Elektra but is available on CD on this comp. According to Kramer, signing with a major label didn't change MC5's political affiliations with groups like the Black Panthers. MC5 manager John Sinclair founded the White Panthers. They played a lot of political rallies. MC5's 1969 debut album Kick Out The Jams got a lot of buzz. But when the Detroit department store chain Hudson's refused to carry the album due to obscenity in the lyrics, MC5 took out a full page ad criticizing Hudson's and Elektra. Elektra pulled the album from release and fired the band. They signed with Atlantic and Rolling Stone music writer Jon Landau produced and got them to tone things down for Back In The USA. Not only did the album not sell but it got mixed reviews. Their third album High Time did worse and Atlantic dropped them. MC5 split up in 1972. Fred Smith started a new band Sonic's Rendezvous Band and released one album. Then he married Patti Smith and retired from music. He died in 1994. Wayne Kramer landed in jail on a drug conviction. Michael; Davis was in the same prison. Since Kramer was released, he has recorded several solo albums. Rob Tyner used the MC5 name in the 80s. He died in 1991 and MC5 reunited for a 1992 tribute concert. MC5 reformed in 2003. Kramer and Thompson are still part of the band. The lead singer is Handsome Dick Manitoba formerly of The Dictators. Today, MC5 are considered very influential on the 70s punk scene. So their influence is greater than their success in the 60s. Here's MC5 performing Looking At You at Wayne State University July 1970.

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