Wednesday, November 22, 2006

158. MC5 - Kick Out The Jams (1969)

Track Listing

1. Ramblin' Rose
2. Kick Out The Jams
3. Come Together
4. Rocket Reducer No 62
5. Borderline
6. Motor City Is Burning
7. I Want You Right Now
8. Starship


Something is seriously ahead of its time here. This is very close to punk indeed, and it is not hard to see why this became so influential. When a song starts with the spoken line "Kick Out The Jams, Motherfuckers!" something is not very 1969.

What is great about this album is it's sheer energy, the sheer violence of it. It's an album that makes you feel like either driving very fast, shooting some people or just getting a baseball bat a taking it to the police or something. The feeling of violent revolution is prevasive in the album, not so much from the lyrics but definitely from the spoken intros and the music itself, the apocalyptic derranged feel of it is infectious.

This must have been really shocking in 69, but it is also very impressive, it is not clean in the least, it is just energetic although very technically accomplished. They are all good players but it's really their attitude which puts this album lightyears ahead of its time. If you are into punk, this is definitely a band to put side by side with the Stooges as great proto-punk.

You need this album, you might like it or not, but it is an important one to listen to, the seed of Punk is here, evolved several degrees from The Monks in 1965, so get it now either by streaming it from Napster or buying it from Amazon UK or US.

Track Highlights

1. Kick Out The Jams
2. Rocket Reducer No 62
3. Starship
4. Come Together

Final Grade



Kick Out The Jams, Beat Club 1972, dig his Whitefro:

While "Ramblin' Rose" and "Motor City is Burning" open with inflammatory rhetoric, it was the opening line to the title track that stirred up the most controversy. Rob Tyner shouted, "And right now it's time to... KICK OUT THE JAMS, MOTHERFUCKER!" before the opening riffs. Elektra's executives were offended by the line and had preferred to edit it out of the album, however the band and manager John Sinclair adamantly opposed this. Instead, two versions were released, with the uncensored version sold behind record counters.

Making matters worse, Hudsons' department store refused to carry the album. Tensions between the band and the chain got to the point where the department stores refused to carry any album from the Elektra label after the MC5 took out a full-page ad that, according to Danny Fields, "was just a picture of Rob Tyner, and the only copy was 'Fuck Hudson's' And it had the Elektra logo. To end the conflict, Elektra dropped the MC5 from their record label.

In the end, the album is considered a vital step in the evolution towards punk. The album, along with fellow Detroit band the Stooges' first two albums, was so ahead of its time that it could not be classified under any genre until after the punk movement traced its lineage back to it. Now on CD, the remastered live version is kept in its original uncensored state.

Kick Out the Jams has also been taken to be a slogan of the 1960s ethos of revolution and liberation, an incitement to "kick out" restrictions in various forms. This is myth and fiction, however; the truth is more prosaic. To quote MC5 guitarist Wayne Kramer from his interview with Caroline Boucher in Disc & Music Echo, 8 August, 1970:

"People said 'oh wow, kick out the jams means break down restrictions' etc., and it made good copy, but when we wrote it we didn't have that in mind. We first used the phrase when we were the house band at a ballroom in Detroit, and we played there every week with another band from the area.

"We got in the habit, being the sort of punks we are, of screaming at them to get off the stage, to kick out the jams, meaning stop jamming. We were saying it all the time and it became a sort of esoteric phrase. Now, I think people can get what they like out of it; that's one of the good things about rock and roll."

The line was reinterpreted in the Illuminatus! trilogy as a secret message of mockery from the Illuminati to their former allies, the Justified Ancients of Mummu, or JAMs. From there, the expression -- and samples of the MC5 -- were used by the English band, The JAMs, in their tracks "All You Need Is Love" and (as The KLF) "What Time Is Love?" (The White Room album version).

No comments: