MC5 Kick It Live

The band that won't go away, thank god.

When the MC5 (Wayne Kramer, Rob Tyner, Bob Gaspar, Fred "Sonic" Smith, Pat

Burrows) roared out of Detroit in the late Ô60s, leaving in their wake a

distorted stream of political rhetoric, white noise, White Panther propaganda,

revolutionary dogma and kick-ass jams, they unwittingly gave a jump-start not

only to punk, but to the very idea that a band few people ever heard the first

time around (see the Velvet Underground) could have influence on several

generations of future rockers. And while their rallying cry of "Kick out the

Jams Motherfuckers!" might seem a little worse for the wear today and their

legendary sexist attitudes about women and open endorsement of drugs certainly

wouldn't jive in the Just-Say-No-to-Everything-AIDS-era, there is something

inspiringly reckless and pleasingly hedonistic about a recently-released live

album called MC5: Ice Pick Slim Live 1968 (Alive). Like their legendary

debut, Kick Out the Jams (Elektra let them use the full phrase on the

title song, but not the album title), this three-track EP was recorded live at

the Grande Ballroom in Detroit in 1968, adding to the fiery, anything-goes


Included are three songs, one never-before-released version of "Motor

City is Burning," a rough mix from the Kick Out the Jams sessions and

two epic versions of songs that became MC5 signature tunes, "Ice Pick Slim" (18

minutes) and "I'm Mad Like Eldridge Cleaver" (19 minutes), both of which were

first available on a 10" EP that came out in 1995. "Slim" is described as a

"musical portrait of a certain type of character who was no stranger to the

streets of Detroit, inspired by the writings of the great African-American

convict novelist Robert Beck, professionally known as Iceberg Slim." It is an

inspired, fevered jam that features a flute solo by Rob Tyner, a drum solo from

the way-back book and a frenzied white blooze sensibility that reeks of a very

male, very rawk, very power to the people, ethic. Although, like "Slim," the

version of "I'm Mad Like Eldridge Cleaver," is pretty muddy, not exaclty

pristine CD quality sound, due to their source, an amateur taper, it too is

full of unbridled energy and a vague sense of doom and danger. The lyrics,

performed spontaneously by Rob Tyner, are a mix of revolutionary rhetoric and

blues tropes, many borrowed from the inspiration for the song, legendary

Detroit bluesman John Lee Hooker's "I'm Bad Like Jesse James..."