OK kids, it's rockin' time! Detroit's MC5 kicked off the '70s with a bang on Back in the USA, released January 15, 1970. A roadmap for punk's class of '77, the album condensed the epic, throbbing sprawl of Kick Out the Jam... more »s into the pure essence of rock & roll: machine gun blasts of pure energy and hooks, with nods to the founding fathers (Chuck Berry and Little Richard) and freshly-minted teen anthems for the ages ("Shakin' Street," "High School," "Tonight," "Teenage Lust," etc., etc.).« less
OK kids, it's rockin' time! Detroit's MC5 kicked off the '70s with a bang on Back in the USA, released January 15, 1970. A roadmap for punk's class of '77, the album condensed the epic, throbbing sprawl of Kick Out the Jams into the pure essence of rock & roll: machine gun blasts of pure energy and hooks, with nods to the founding fathers (Chuck Berry and Little Richard) and freshly-minted teen anthems for the ages ("Shakin' Street," "High School," "Tonight," "Teenage Lust," etc., etc.).
"It's hard for me to believe that these guys weren't popular upon the release of "Back in the USA." Sure, they had previous ties with John Sinclair and the White Panthers, but the songs on this disc are catchy--a early 70s revisitation of the sound of Chuck Berry. While many prefer "Kick out the Jams," this is easily their best album. While not as slick as, say, Alice Cooper, their songs of teenage angst are much better. Cuts like "Teenage Lust," "High School" and "Call Me Animal" should have connected with a young audience had this album been promoted properly back in 1970. It also features two of the best, overlooked anti-war songs of all time: "The Human Being Lawnmower" and "The American Ruse." The later is my favorite song in the MC5 catalog--it is one part anti-war, another part anti-police (foreshadowing the brutal Black Flag track "Police Story" ), while managing to totally rock and stay catchy. The only thing keeping this album from receiving the 5 star rating is the poor attempt at a love song, "Let Me Try," which is kind of like the "We Will Fall" (from the Stooges self-titled debut) of the album. While "We Will Fall" does damage the flow of the first Stooges album, it is genuinely eerie. "Let Me Try" is just plain bad, foreshadowing some of the worst elements of late-1970s Kiss (at least in the lyric department). Despite that, this album is well worth the purchase. Let me reiterate: this album is BETTER than "Kick Out the Jams"!"
Thier best album
Otto | San Antonio, TX | 08/17/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The MC5's debut, 'KICK OUT THE JAMS', is usually regarded by newcomers to thier music as thier best album because it has the classic title song. But the last half of the album is really kind of a bore, which some slow blues-type dirges that go on too long. For thier second album, 1970's, 'BACK IN THE USA', they stripped everything down to short, fast driving rock 'n' roll tunes that sound like The Rolling Stones on cheap speed. The album's sound is high-treble, upbeat, fun, thin. This is straight up white-boy dope rock 'n' roll and an obvious influence on what would become punk rock. The Big Bang: The Best Of The MC5 should be your starter kit (has 8 of the 11 tracks here) but most MC5 fans agree this is thier best album that you can listen to all the way through. With "The American Ruse" being the standout track."
Take a 2nd look & listen
Dean Kuschell | Traverse City, MI USA | 12/02/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Time has been cruel on the often maligned 2nd release from Detroit's MC5. Indeed it is a radical change from the 1st album, but you have to consider all that the band went through between recordings...but that's another story. The production is the main culprit (tinny sounding) but it's the songs man...just like the difference between Zeppelin's 4th & 5th albums or the Beatles Sgt. Pepper & the White album this is a band striving not to repeat itself. Make no mistake this album rocks! Even the one ballad that headbangers often cringe over, 'Let Me Try' shows the MC5's motown r&b influence...remember, the Five were rockin' Detroit while Barry Gordy was churning out the hits right accross the street...plus there's Fred 'Sonic' Smith's masterpiece 'Shakin' Street,' the stinging guitar work of 'Looking At You' and the superb 'Human Being Lawnmower' not to mention a couple of great rock covers of Little Richard and the real king of rock and roll, Chuck Berry. This is just part of the story of the MC5 but an album that any real fan or musician knows is real the real deal...KOTJMF!"
Classic hard rocking proto-punk from the legendary MC 5
Thomas Muckinhaupt | Erie, PA United States | 07/01/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Yeah, this cd is a lot different than "Kick out the Jams" and various reviewers complain about the trebly sound. Just turn up the bass to maximum and it really sounds great! Plus the songs are top notch. "Call Me Animal" is a dynamite tune, and "The Human Being Lawnmower" is a fantastic heavy tune that I'm sure would have to be considered mind-blowing at the time, with its unique tempos and agressive last chorus with almost a thrashy sound. Sure, it's commercial in spots, such as the song "High School", but I like an album with variety, and this has it. I bought the original album of this back in the 70's for 99 cents!!! At a GC Murphy's store in little Corry, PA (population 7000). All in all, great guitar, excellent vocals from the late Rob Tyner make this a must have in any good rock collection."
Great second album by the MC5....
Grigory's Girl | NYC | 07/26/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"After not playing this album for a while, I broke it out again. It's better than its predecessor, Kick Out the Jams, for sure. It's not as fantastic as High Time (which is my favorite of MC5's albums and one of my top 30 favorite albums). The MC5 shed the political trappings of their first album, and got down to what they did best...rock and roll. This album is a short but perfect album (only around 29 minutes), and it's superb. Someone compared to the Ramones's first album, and I could see how the Ramones would derive inspiration from this album.
It starts out with a short but quick cover of Tutti Frutti. I also love the only ballad on the album Let Me Try. It's the longest song on the album (4 minutes 11 seconds), and it's surprisingly beautiful and moving. It also shows that the MC5 were ambitious and it would be more fully realised on their next (and sadly last) album High Time. The guitar soloing on Looking at You is pure rock and roll, noisy and full of emotion. In fact, Fred "Sonic" Smith's soloing is excellent througout the entire album. I love the song Call Me Animal (which has a great chorus). The song The Human Being Lawnmower has a great title and it's another great example of the MC5's ambition. Dave Marsh's liner notes call the song a mini rock opera, and in some ways it is. It's a pretty complex song, considering it's a mere 2 1/2 minutes long.
While the production sounds a bit tinny at times, it's still a damn fine album. It's also kind of sad to listen to, as MC5 only managed 3 studio albums, and a lot of great music was never heard because of personnel problems, lack of promotion, drug use, etc., etc.. In some ways, there were like Moby Grape, another brilliant band that burned out way too soon. Still, their albums will always shine on.