Bill Your 'Free Form FM Handi Cyber | Mahwah, NJ USA | 06/30/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I came upon the MC5 by complete accident. In the early 90s, I was getting heavy into funk and soul, and I got Kick Out The Jams, thinking these guys were a soul group.
Imagine my suprise, but it was a plesent one. This is live, revolution rock, fueled by the inferno that was America in 1968. A lot of bands sang about insurrection at the time, but these motherf--kers were the real deal.
All the songs on here have a cornorstone of roaring, distored guitar that sounds edgy today. Most of the numbers are blues on steriods--a LOT of steriods. It is a blasting masterpiece.
But MC5 were no one dementional garage band. Listen to "Borderline" which has a bridge that goes beyond the typical hard rock transition of music like this. The band take it ten times further out on "Starship," an out and out piece of avant-garde noise, where they use their guitars to create a frightening simulation of blasting into space. The vocals chant over absolutely chilling noises rung from the guitar. A lot of bands tooled around with feedback during this era, but only Hendrix matched this. Sonic Youth made a career out of the ideas on this track.
If you have any, and I mean any, interest in grunge or punk and don't know this album, buy it right now. This was way, way ahead of its time"
The first hard rock album? 75/100
dfle3 | Australia | 06/26/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
This isn't an album I would have come across myself without any help. Talking music on online forums I might have heard one person recommend this album as being great. And some months back I saw it mentioned in a rock magazine. Those two things together made me want to check this album out.
Musically, I find the sound harder than some other albums of the time that I've been exploring, mainly with reference to the origins of heavy metal. So, I'd say that I find the music in this harder than Cream, Jimi Hendrix and the debut albums of Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath. Often the music is what you'd call 'heavy/hard rock'. If you are familiar with AC/DC's no hits album "Powerage", it's not a million miles away from that...sort of MC5 doing AC/DC before AC/DC. It's not as catchy as AC/DC's ultimate Australian pub rock album "Let there be rock", but it's in that kind of territory, or some of Alice Cooper's harder sounding songs. The following year, Australian band The Masters Apprentices released perhaps the heaviest rock song up to that point in time, "Turn up your radio", which was a killer track.
To the album...it seems to be an entirely live performance, and it does have some strong swear words, occasionally. Some of the pre-song banter by the lead singer makes you think that the band is of African American origin, but looking at the cover art, they seem pretty white to me! Not sure, but maybe the band is playing to a black audience, and showing solidarity with them or something.
Generally consistent in quality, the songs which I liked the best were:
I want you right now: my pick as the best song on this album. It's very heavy rock (perhaps the heaviest sound in music to that point in time...certainly heavier than Black Sabbath's debut album). There is some good multi-vocals happening, and I like the slower tempo part of the song. The song's riff is ball park similar to The Trogg's classic "Wild thing".
Best of the rest-
Rocket reducer: Reminded me of Australian hard rock band of the 70s-80s The Angels, and their song "She keeps no secrets", with regard to the guitar sound. The vocals also reminded me of Australian band Gangagang's classic "Gimme some lovin'". The song has lots of lead guitar histrionics.
Starship: An epic song which runs to 8:15 minutes. It's very heavy rock with a strong riff. It later gets a bit more performance arty, in a trippy kind of way. Lyrically, it's poetic in a The Doors kind of way. Experimental.
The rest -
Ramblin' Rose: has an introduction with evangelical zeal. Becomes heavy rock'n'roll, with fuzzy rhythm guitar and a squealing lead guitar.
Kick out the jams: rock'n'roll song with spanking drums. The song which features a strong swear word, even by today's standards. Chorus is sort of catchy.
Come together: Noise rock. Sort of equivalent to those AC/DC records I mentioned before....Let There Be Rock, and Powerage, with regard to the guitar sound.
Borderline: Has grating guitars, some good rhythm guitar and multi-vocals.
Motor City is burning: Bluesy rock'n'roll with a bassy boogie shuffle and B.B.King type vocals.
If you like the rawness of this record, try AC/DC's Powerage album. If you like the hooks in the songs here, you might enjoy AC/DC's "Let there be rock" record."