30 Best live albums countdown: 22 – Kick out the Jams by MC5


“And right now, right now, right now it’s time to… kick out the jams, motherfuckers!”

 Let’s continue with my countdown of 30 the best live albums ever, at 22 I have MC5‘s ferocious Kick Out The Jams.

I was into punk when I grew up, and not metal. There were two camps in our little town when I grew up. When us punk fans listened to Detroit music, we listened to The Stooges. When the metal kids listened to Detroit music, they listened to Kiss. MC5 were something in the middle, to me they are the ancestors of both punk-and metal music. Their attitude was punk and their riffs were the inspiration of many metal bands. Together with Detroit sparring partners The Stooges, The Motor City Five were truly an anomaly in the peace-and-love hippy climate of 1967.

Kick out the Jams (1970):

And they looked great!
MC5 bare chested

…and the borders between the genres have blurred since my childhood, I now like good music no matter what genre or where it comes from.

On new years eve in 1968, MC5 recorded this earthquake , this thunderstorm, Kick Out The Jams. Not everyone’s new year, but the followers of Zenta, The religion of MC5. To us who have no religin or who has other beliefs and follows the ordinary calendar, it was recorded at the Grande Ballroom in Detroit on the Halloween weekend, 30. and 31. October. It was released in February 1969, through Elektra Records.

I know, they were a special group of people…
MC5 Concert Poster

MC5 was formed by their time, the Vietnam War and the social changes, this was garage rock with a rage not known to anybody before (and very rarely since). The guitars acted as assault weapons in their war against conformity.

John Sinclair (poet) was instrumental in leading the MC5 into creating the soundtrack for the new party The White Panther Party, which had the fitting slogan: “Rock’n Roll, dope and fucking in the streets”.

Video where John Sinclair is reading the liner notes from the album:

This was danger caught on vinyl!

The album is named after a heckle. Two years MC5 played weekly at the Ballroom opening up for better known bands.

“More often than not, the bands were really tired, they’d come from San Francisco and play all this kind of electric folk music. I mean they were wimpy, they had no passion, they were posers, slackers, and we were young and aggressive fellows so we used to harass them from the wings, Kick out the Jams or get off the stage!. Or, Get down, brother or get the fuck out!”    – Wayne Cramer (guitarist)

MC5 was something else, they had passion a plenty, they threw the music in your face and the album still sounds fresh and full of life, energy and aggression.

“Our power is concentrated in that record in a way that you can’t deny. Kick out the Jams is a powerful statement of a time.”
– Wayne Cramer

This is very true!

MC5 store poster

That first single, “Kick Out The Jams (Motherfuckers)”, became something of a battlecry back in 1968. And that use of the “M” word got them into a lot of trouble: police raided MC5 shows, record stores were cited for selling their album, and the group was dumped by its record company even as Kick Out The Jams stormed up the charts.

“People come up to me all the time and say, ‘Hey, “Kick Out The Jams” changed my life,’” says Wayne Kramer. “I usually tell them: ‘I’m sorry, I can’t change it back.’”  – From Uncut Magazine

In 2003 was ranked number 294 on Rolling Stone’s “500 Greatest Albums of All Time” list.

MC5’s Beat Club full performance in 1974:

The album on Spotify:

MC5 - Back

– Hallgeir

Sources: Wikipedia, Mojo Magazine,  Rolling Stone Magazine, Uncut Magazine

Posts in this series:
22. Kick Out The Jams by MC5 (this post)
23. One night stand! Live at the Hralem Square Clum 1963 by Sam Cooke
24. Live At The Apollo by James Brown
25. The Band of Gypsys – Jimi Hendrix
26. The Köln Concert by Keith Jarret
27. On Stage by Elvis Presley
28. One for the road by The Kinks
29. Waiting for Columbus by Little Feat
30. Wings over America by Wings

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