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‘Motor City’s Burning’: The incendiary 60’s Detroit music scene from Motown to the Stooges
01:43 pm


Iggy Pop

Martha and the Vandellas
Martha Reeves and the Vandellas

Below you’ll find Motor City’s Burning: Detroit from Motown to the Stooges, A 2008 BBC documentary that gives a brief summary of the musical trajectory and evolution of Detroit’s music scene through the riotous decade. It’s a little overly ambitious in scope and far more focused on MC5 and the Stooges then it is on Motown, but it’s worth taking a look as it traces a path from John Lee Hooker to Berry Gordy’s slick Motown production, through the Detroit riots of 1967 and the emergence of the MC5, the Stooges, George Clinton and Alice Cooper. The music scene is necessarily tied to the history of Detroit and the rise and fall of the auto industry and the 1967 Detroit riots.
Motown Doc
There are many luminaries interviewed here including Johnny Bassett, Lamont Dozier, Martha Reeves, Mary Wilson, Mike Davis, Wayne Kramer, John Sinclair, Ron Asheton, Scott Asheton, Lenny Kaye, Iggy Pop and Alice Cooper.
The MC5
Some of the best commentary in film talks about the dichotomy between views of the city in the sixties. Inner-city African Americans had a clearly different experience from the largely suburban white acidheads freaking out to the likes of the MC5 in places like the Grande Ballroom (shown in contemporary footage and in complete dilapidated abandon) where the MC5 had a residency. John Sinclair, the MC5’s headline grabbing manager and White Panther Party founder, discusses the fact that white kids came to inner city Detroit looking for “urban adventure.”  African Americans on the other hand felt intimidated and provoked by white police and increasingly infuriated over the ghettoization their neighborhoods. While groups like the Motor City 5 lived right in the middle of the unrest, their largely white audience often did not.
John Sinclair’s arrest for two joints and the John and Yoko support concert is discussed, while Iggy Pop talks about the early Ann Arbor scene, and there’s good footage particularly of John Lee Hooker, MC5, the Stooges and George Clinton throughout the film.

The documentary leaves a lot to be desired with kind of Cliff’s Notes oversimplification but it has some notable anecdotes and perspectives. If you’ve got an hour to kill or you just don’t know much about the Detroit musical phenomenon, one could find a worse primer.

Posted by Jason Schafer | Leave a comment
Ridonkulous ‘Beat Club’ showcase featuring Captain Beefheart, MC5, Alice Cooper, NY Dolls and more!

Beat Club was the German TV show dedicated to rock performance that later became Musikladen (Music Store), a show we’ve featured here at DM many times. I don’t know exactly what kind of acid they put into the performers’ (or the producers’) drinks, but this compilation, known as “The Crazy World” (and originally released on a Laserdisc) is totally out-o-sight and generally kicks ass. Enhancing all the rockin’ are a lot of groove-tastic green screen effects. The visuals on this show were almost as mind-bending as the audio.

The Three Faces of Vliet
The music is tuneful and heavy, all around. I’d scarcely heard any Flo & Eddie, but they hang right in there with the rest of them. I was prepared not to dig the Slade number much, but it rocked. Everything on this compilation rocks, even the otherwise sprightly number by the Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band.

They really don’t show music like this on TV anymore, like ever. I’m not sure people can even make music like this any more, maybe the iPhones are slowly sucking it out of us. Hmmm. I’m open to hypotheses.

Track listing:
Alice Cooper: “I’m Eighteen”
Alice Cooper: “Public Animal #9”
Captain Beefheart and His Magic Band: “I’m Gonna Booglarize You Baby”
Phlorescent Leech and Eddie: “Feel Older Now”
MC5: “Kick Out The Jams”
The Crazy World of Arthur Brown: “Fire”
Slade: “Goz I Luv You”
New York Dolls: “Lookin’ For A Kiss”
Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band: “I’m The Urban Spaceman”


Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Kick out the jams with ‘Brother’ Wayne Kramer of The MC5, this week on ‘The Pharmacy’
04:59 pm

Pop Culture

The Pharmacy
Wayne Kramer

Gregg Foreman’s radio program The Pharmacy is a music / talk show playing heavy soul, raw funk, 60′s psych, girl groups, Krautrock. French yé-yé, Hammond organ rituals, post-punk transmissions and “ghost on the highway” testimonials and interviews with the most interesting artists and music makers of our times…

This week’s guest is the Wayne Kramer from the legendary MC5:

  • Where The MC5 came from and what “the Revolution” was all about
  • Why the MC5’s first record was a live record which was rather untraditional at the time , and the differences between the records and recording ...
  • The MC5’s affinity with free jazz musicians like like Sun Ra and Albert Ayler.
  • Why The MC5 were the only band to show up at the 1968 Democratic Convention…
  • Wayne’s post-prison band, Gang War with Johnny Thunders

Plus some advice to the kids…

Mr. Pharmacy is a musician and DJ who has played for the likes of Pink Mountaintops, The Delta 72, The Black Ryder, The Meek and more. Since 2012 Gregg Foreman has been the musical director of Cat Power’s band. He started dj’ing 60s Soul and Mod 45’s in 1995 and has spun around the world. Gregg currently lives in Los Angeles, CA and divides his time between playing live music, producing records and dj’ing various clubs and parties from LA to Australia.

Set List

Mr.Pharmacist - The Fall
Ramblin’ Rose - The MC5
Pow! To the People - The Make Up
INTRO 1 / Boogaloo - Rx/Carol Kaye
Wayne Kramer Conversation Part 1
Tonight - MC5
Night Time - Strangeloves
Camel Walk - The Ikettes
Le Responsable - Jacques Dutronc
INTRO 2 / Sliced Tomatoes - Rx / Just Brothers
Wayne Kramer Conversation Part 2
1969 - The Stooges
I Can’t Stand It - James Brown
Action Woman - The Litter
Oh How to Do Now - The Monks
INTRO 3 / The Swag - Rx / Link Wray
Wayne Kramer Conversation Part 3
The American Ruse - MC5
Blank Generation - Richard Hell and The Voidoids
All This and More - Dead Boys
I Can Only Give You Everything - Them
Wayne Kramer Conversation Part 4
Kick Out the Jams - MC5
I’m Ready - Fats Domino
Wayne Kramer Conversation Part 5
The Wig - Lorenzo Holden
Twine Time - Alvin Cash and the Crawlers
Chasing a Fire Engine - Wayne Kramer and the Lexington Arts Ensemble

You can download the entire show here.
Below, the absolutely terrific documentary MC5: A True Testimonial:

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
That mythical MC5 documentary you’ve all been waiting to see…
01:58 pm



The absolutely terrific documentary MC5: A True Testimonial was made in 2002 but never had a theatrical run and has never been released on DVD. Other than screenings at film festivals, the movie has mostly gone unseen despite receiving stellar reviews. The reasons were legal entanglements that often cripple or doom rockumentaries to obscurity, the details of which I’m not going to get into because they involve friends I don’t want to piss off.

Here’s a rare chance to see MC5: A True Testimonial. It may not last long on YouTube so I suggest watching it now. A finer film on the Motor City 5 will doubtlessly never be made. Kick out the jams, motherfuckers!

Update: Yes, I know the film was booked briefly in NYC and a booking or two in Michigan. But, to me, that doesn’t constitute a “theatrical run.” For all intents and purposes, and I’m sure the film makers would agree, the film was never released in any significant way to theaters.

Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment
MC5 rocking extremely hard on French TV in 1972
02:10 pm



MC5 on French TV. Broadcast on Pop2 on November 14th, 1972.

From the 2:16 minute point, the clip is from a 1973 episode of Pop2 and contains some really cool footage of the all-too-rarely-seen Fred “Sonic” Smith. Smith and Wayne Kramer were the only founding members of the band on this tour: the MC2.

Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment
Motor City is Burning: 30 minutes of seldom-seen footage of the MC5

If you think you’ve seen all the footage there is to see of the mighty MC5, check out Leni Sinclair and Cary Loren’s short film “Kick Out the Jams.”

Sinclair was married to MC5 manager and revolutionary poet John Sinclair (author of Guitar Army) and organized the infamous John Sinclair Freedom Rally (headlined by John Lennon and Yoko Ono) when he was imprisoned ten years for two joints. She was active in the Artists Workshop, which evolved into the Trans-Love Energies commune, which then in turn became the White Panther Party. Cary Loren was a founding member of “anti-rock” art rockers Destroy All Monsters along with Jim Shaw, Niagara and the late Mike Kelley.

Here’s an excerpt from an interview with Sinclair conducted by Ken Shimamoto:

One hears and reads all sorts of things about the Trans-Love house and the different roles of men and women there…from a contemporary standpoint, it sounds very traditional. Can you comment on that?

Leni; It might look like that in retrospect, because that was before the advent of feminism, but as far as living in that situation, the women did not feel oppressed or second-rate. I mean, women didn’t pick up instruments and try to play and try to be in the band, but as far as the atmosphere at the time, we all considered ourselves equal in the endeavor. We were revolutionaries; there was no hierarchy like the males up here and the women down there. At the time, we all felt that we were contributing equally to this effort we were involved in, whatever it took. I’ve heard some things…that “the women were on the floor, scrubbing the floor.” That was a lot of hokum. Everybody pitched in, everybody did their chores and their work. We had it tightly organized. Childcare was shared, kitchen duties were shared, everything, except for playing in the band.

In fact, I wrote an article one time in the newspaper, in the Ann Arbor Sun, I think, about “cock rock” and the criticism that was starting to appear about “cock rock” guys with guitars. And my thesis was, there’s nothing wrong with that; the only thing wrong is that women have to start learning to play, too, and getting up there.

And that happened in the ‘90s.

Leni: I didn’t say it, but “Let’s have cock-rock and pussy rock” (Laughs)

When John was imprisoned in 1969, did the Five renege on a promise to help you out financially while he was in prison?

Leni: I don’t really know if there had ever been a promise. Nobody knew that John was going to go to jail, and I don’t think that he ever had any discussions prior to going to jail to see what would happen. Everybody just figured he would get an appeal bond and be out on the street in a matter of days, or maybe weeks. Well, that didn’t happen, and the MC5…first, they severed their relationship with J.C. Crawford, which we all felt was a big mistake, because J.C. was almost a sixth member of the band, he was almost an integral part. So when they fired him, we had kinda bad feelings about that, and then when they brought in Jon Landau as a manager, of course we had bad feelings about that. The financial part was…I don’t really know. ‘Cause no promises were made, John never had a written contract with the band or anything like that. It was on the honor system.

But I do know that after John went to jail, there were about 17 of us who had spent the last two years doing nothing but working for the MC5 and making them a success, never taking any money for ourselves, just room and board. All of a sudden, John is gone, and we have no money coming in. Our phones got cut off just at the crucial point when we needed to make some publicity and let people know John was in jail. We had no way; we had no phones and we were just begging for food. My mother-in-law and father-in-law helped us out like they usually did, but it was devastating for awhile. And there was probably hard feelings thinking that the MC5 should have kept John on as a manager, even if he was in jail. People told them otherwise, other people told them John would be a hindrance, because now he was too hot to handle. John was now too much of a political figure. So they said no, better get rid of John Sinclair and the revolutionary image. Which was a mistake, I think we all agree. Because they lost whatever they had going for them, they kinda got lost after that.

What did you do immediately after that?

Leni: Well, I was pregnant with Celia and we had a child, and we had to organize to make a living and we had to organize the John Sinclair freedom movement.. We kept it together by hook or by crook, and the person who’s most responsible for all that is Dave Sinclair, John’s brother, who took over the financial management of this whole shebang. The Up became the house band for the revolutionary White Panther Party wing (Laughs). They were no MC5, but they could kick it out, and so we kept it going like that. So for the next two and a half years, we were just continuing without the Five, focusing our energies on getting John out and continuing to organise.

Do you know about the Bentley archive? When John and I broke up, I had a whole roomful of all the things that I’d collected since I came to this country—all the fliers, all the magazines, all the books we published. We published, at one time, four magazines, and put out about twenty books of poetry, most of them mimeographed by hand. I’m a pack rat, so I saved every last scrap of paper, every memo, everything. So when we broke up, we donated our collection of stuff to the Michigan Historical Library, which houses the papers of the governors and the supreme court justices of Michigan and all that. And so they have the John and Leni Sinclair Papers…a huge amount of materials, and people come from far and wide to study the ‘60s now. It’s at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.

Sinclair is also an accomplished photographer who has snapped iconic shots of many a Motor City madman and documented important events in rock and roll and counterculture history. She has taken photographs of Iggy and The Stooges, John Lennon and Yoko Ono, Abbie Hoffman, Jerry Rubin and Allen Ginsberg among many other revolutionary counter-cultural luminaries of the 60s and 70s.

Leni Sinclair’s new book, with famed poster artist Gary Grimshaw, is titled Detroit Rocks! A Pictorial History of Motor City Rock and Roll 1965-1975.

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
MC5’s entire 1972 performance on ‘Beat Club’
06:14 pm


Beat Club

How cool is this? A stunningly high quality YouTube upload of the MC5’s entire session on German TV’s ‘Beat Club’ circa 1972.

1. Kick Out the Jams
2. Ramblin’ Rose
3. Motor City’s Burning
4. Tonight
5. Black to Comm

Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment
Michael Davis bass player for The MC5 R.I.P.
12:45 am

Pop Culture

Michael Davis

Sad news. Michael Davis who played bass in The MC5 and Destroy All Monsters has died of liver failure at the age of 68.

In an interview conducted in 2010, Davis looked back on the Sixties and the pop culture crucible in which the MC5 were formed.

The energy of times of the late ‘60s was something that probably won’t ever be duplicated because at that point in time everything was changing from the post-war era into what we might call modern society and technology. When I first started playing in the MC5, a lot of things were still in black and white, not everything was in color, especially the things from Europe, what we called foreign film back then. It had a certain character back then, a lot of the photos of British bands were in black and white. It carried that rainy day mood, it wasn’t all bright and lollipops. It was somber and bluesy. It was such enormous fun to break away from being a straight kid, and dress in Carnaby fashions, skinny pants, pointy boots, little skinny ties and white shirts.

It was an era that was unique, and really a lot of fun. It had this particular soul to it, Motown was happening, everybody was very dapper, before the psychedelic thing took over. The spirit of the times is what stands out.

I believed in us (the MC5), and believed what we were doing was so unique. For me the important thing was to be original, because I came from an art background. Copying someone else’s stuff wouldn’t get the attention that I wanted. Originality was the key to any kind of long-term recognition. I wanted us to be totally original. I thought what we were doing was totally unprecedented, at least not in rock and roll. There was plenty of jazz music, Sun Ra, where people improvised and played free. When we started doing it with electric instruments I just felt the energy levels that we achieved were so profound. I could see it in the audience reactions to it. Audiences absolutely hated it or went crazy. I thought that it would have a long-term effect. But you know it wasn’t successful in the business part of it. It wasn’t that marketable. It wasn’t like the Beatles. But I actually did have a kind of a suspicion that it would be long-term. Having said that, I am really surprised it did turn out that way.”

This footage of The MC5 from 1967 features Michael Davis in supreme form.

Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment
The sustaining power of rock and roll: A compendium of rarely seen music vids

Revolution is in the air and we’re all feeling the first rumblings of what may become a long hard winter of discontent. Destiny is kneeling at the hem of absolute reality altering the 13 inch pegged pants that Jesus wore to Elvis’s and Priscilla’s wedding. Gene Vincent’s blue suede shoes have turned a whiter shade of pale and Lou Reed is breaching the tight tangle of his own decadent and decaying bunghole only to discover there’s little velvet left in his underground. At the outer rim of what we have come to accept as the entirety of our little world there’s a fluttering of moth-like wings which, to everyone’s surprise, is the hypnogogic light show palpitating on the moist pink plasma of our eyelids. As we lay dumbstruck on a bed of lavender-scented panty shields, a large shadowy figure hovers above us: the ghost of Canned Heat’s Bob “The Bear” Hite in coitus with a giant rubber replica of Timothy Leary’s pineal gland. Our silent awe is violently interrupted by the lower intestinal flubbering of Mr. Kurt Cobain sucking the last sustaining droplets of Lil Wayne’s bottle of drank while Thom Yorke, wearing a thong made of Gypsy foreskins, cowers in a dark, dank, moldering corner cluttered with the remains of Bob Guccione, Miles Davis and Stiv Bators. As a thousand angels weep, Pete Townshend fumbles for his eyeglasses, slaps them to the bridge of his nose, and places his long calloused fingers upon his computer’s monitor screen where an image of a young Bob Dylan in flannel pajamas sullenly strokes the head of a tattered Teddy bear.

At times like these I always turn to music to recharge the cells that fire the cylinders of change, renewal and transformation. Rock and roll is the soundtrack of my life, perhaps it’s your’s as well.

Here’s a fistful of musical dynamite to detonate within the circle that encloses our dreams, hopes and desires. Let the walls dissolve as our flesh extends into eternity like infinite tendrils of meat, sweat and cum.

Squares, you’ve been warned. Stand clear, run for your lives, or loosen your belts and join the party.

Rarely seen videos from The Music Machine, Baris Manco, Steppenwolf, Fleetwood Mac (with Peter Green), Frumpy, MC5 and Iggy Pop.

Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment