To receive your weekly dose of Rock News, Playlists, Recommendations, Competitions and much, much more, please join our Mailing List
This website is part of the South African Rock Encyclopedia
Fellow rock fans,
I'm so glad that you enjoyed my choice of the 'new prog' bands on Thursday, obviously I couldn't play everything but the cross section of what was played clearly underscores just how vibrant, creative and exciting this genre of rock music is....Punk may have landed a hard blow to progressive rock music in the mid 70's but it clearly wasn't a knockout and prog has bounced back to the upper echelons of rock once again - and where is punk now? (no smirking please)...oh what the hell, prog..psych..metal...punk..alternative..stoner...fusion - it's all rock and roll!...This week's special will feature a band that revolutionised American rock music at the turn of the 70's, they were opinionated, politically motivated, brash, loud and the system's worst nightmare in 1970 - they were also, along with fellow Detroit rockers The Stooges, one of the bands that really played a huge role in my musical education as a teenager and led me firstly, to form a band, and secondly when I started working in the record company, sign bands with a similar attitude (Asylum Kids, Wild Youth, B World)......I give you a testimonial.....The MC 5.
The Rock of Ages Special - The MC 5
MC5 (short for Motor City Five) was a hard rock band formed in Detroit, Michigan, in 1964 and active until 1972 , comprised for most of its duration of Wayne Kramer and Fred "Sonic" Smith (guitars) Michael Davis (bass), Rob Tyner (vocals), and Dennis Thompson (drums).They had a promising beginning, known especially for their energetic live performances, which earned them a cover appearance on Rolling Stone magazine in 1968 even before their debut album was recorded. The MC5's career was ultimately short-lived due to personal and political tensions, and they were largely forgotten when they broke up. Within just a few years of their dissolution, however, the MC5 were often cited as one of the most important American hard rock groups of their era: their three albums are regarded as classics, and they exerted an influence on hard rock, metal and especially punk rock. The widely-covered "Kick Out the Jams" is probably their best-known song.
The origins of the MC5 can be traced to the friendship between guitarists Wayne Kramer and Fred Smith. Friends since their teen years, they were both fans of R&B music, blues, Chuck Berry, Dick Dale, the Ventures, and what would later be called garage rock: they adored any music with speed, energy and a rebellious attitude. Each guitarist/singer formed and led a rock group (Smith's Vibratones and Kramer's Bounty Hunters). As members of both groups left for college or straight jobs, the most committed members eventually united (under Kramer's leadership and the Headhunters name) and were popular and successful enough in and around Detroit that the musicians were able to quit their day jobs and make a living from the group. Kramer felt they needed a manager, which led him to Rob Derminer, a few years older than the others, and deeply involved in Detroit's hipster and left-wing political scenes. Derminger originally auditioned as a bass guitarist, though they quickly realized that his talents could be better used as a lead singer: though not conventionally attractive and rather paunchy by traditional frontman standards, he nonetheless had a commanding stage presence, and a booming baritone voice that evidenced his abiding love of American soul and gospel music. Derminger renamed himself Rob Tyner (after Coltrane's pianist McCoy Tyner). Tyner also invented their new name, The MC5: it reflected their Detroit roots, was vaguely reminiscent of a sports car name (like the GTO), and echoed the Dave Clark Five, at the peak of their popularity in 1964-1965.The music also reflected Smith and Kramer's increasing interest in free jazz -- the guitarists were inspired by the likes of Albert Ayler, Archie Shepp, Sun Ra and late period John Coltrane, and tried to imitate the ecstatic sounds of the squealing, high-pitched saxophonists they adored. The MC5 even opened for a few U.S. midwest shows for Sun Ra. Kramer and Smith were also deeply inspired by Sonny Sharrock, one of the few electric guitarists working in free jazz, and they eventually developed a unique interlocking style that was like little heard before: Kramer's solos often used a heavy, irregular vibrato, while Smith's rhythms contained an uncommon explosive energy.
Under the "guidance" of John Sinclair (who dubbed his enterprise "Trans-Love Energies" and refused to be categorized as a traditional manager), the MC5 were soon involved in left-wing politics: Sinclair was active with the White Panther Party and Fifth Estate. The band members were also all using the drugs -- initially LSD and marijuana -- that would eventually contribute to their downfall.Playing almost nightly any place they could in and around Detroit, the MC5 quickly earned a reputation for their high-energy live performances and had a sizeable local following, regularly selling out to audiences of 1000 or more. Contemporary rock writer Robert Bixby stated that the sound of the MC5 was like "a catastrophic force of nature the band was barely able to control," while Don McLease notes that fans compared the aftermath of an MC5 performance to the delirious exhaustion experienced after "a street rumble or an orgy."Their debut single was released by Trans-Love Energies in early 1968, comprised of two original songs: "Borderline" and "Looking at You." The first pressing sold out in a few weeks, and by the year's end, had gone through more pressings totaling several thousand copies.That summer, MC5 toured the U.S. east coast, which generated an enormous response, with the group often overshadowing the more famous acts they opened up for: McLease writes notes that when opening for Big Brother and the Holding Company audiences regularly demanded multiple encores of the MC5, and at a memorable series of concerts, Cream -- one of the leading hard rock groups of the era -- "left the stage vanquished" by the Detroit upstarts. (McLease, 65) This same east coast tour led to the rapturous aforementioned Rolling Stone cover story the praised the MC5 with nearly evangelistic zeal, and also to an association with the radical group Up Against the Wall Motherfuckers.
The MC5 became the leading band in a burgeoning hard rock scene, serving as mentors to fellow South-Eastern Michigan bands The Stooges and Up, and major record labels expressed an interest in the group. As related in the notes for reissued editions of the Stooges' debut album, Danny Fields of Elektra Records came to Detroit to see the MC5. At Kramer's recommendation, he went to see the Stooges. Fields was so impressed that he ended up offering contracts to both bands in September of 1968. They were the first hard rock groups signed to the fledling Elektra.The MC5 earned national attention with their first album, Kick Out the Jams, recorded live on October 30 and 31, 1968 at Detroit's Grande Ballroom. A live debut was all but unheard of in 1968 (and is still rare today), but Elekra executives Jac Holtzman and Bruce Botnick recognized that the MC5 were at their best when playing for a receptive audience. The first song, a version of the R&B standard "Ramblin' Rose," featured a ragged falsetto lead vocal from Kramer before Tyner joined the group onstage. Containing such songs as the proto-punk classics "Kick Out the Jams" and "Rama Lama Fa Fa Fa", the spaced-out "Starship" (co-credited to Sun Ra because the lyrics were partly cribbed from one of Ra's poems), and an extended cover of John Lee Hooker's "Motor City is Burning" wherin Tyner praises the role of Black Panther snipers during the Detroit Insurrection of 1967. The album is generally regarded as one of the best live rock and roll records: critic Mark Deming writes that the gleefully lusty Kick "is one of the most powerfully energetic live albums ever made ... this is an album that refuses to be played quietly."The album caused some controversy due to the title track's rallying cry of "Kick out the jams, motherfuckers!" (edited without the band's consent to "Kick out the jams, brothers and sisters!" on later pressings of the single and LP; when released on CD) and Sinclair's inflammatory liner notes. The album was released in January, 1969; reviews were mixed, but the album was successful, quickly selling over 100,000 copies, and appearing for several weeks on the Billboard Hot 100.
The band also generated political controversy by performing before the outbreak of violent protests at the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago. The group's appearance at the convention is also notable for their lengthy performance: in an interviewed featured in the documentary Get Up, Stand Up, Kramer reported that while many musicians were scheduled to perform at a day-long concert, only the MC5 initially appeared. The MC5 played for over eight hours straight; of the other scheduled performers, only Neil Young actually arrived, though due to the chaos at the convention, Young didn't perform. When Hudson's, a Detroit-based department store, refused to stock Kick Out The Jams due to the obscenity, the MC5 responded with a full page advertisement in the Fifth Estate saying "Fuck Hudson's!" and prominently including the logo of MC5's label, Elektra Records, in the ad. Hudson's pulled all Elektra records from their stores, and in the ensuing controversy, Jac Holzman, the head of Elektra, dropped the band from their contract. Uncommonly, Elektra's classical division (Nonesuch) was operated on a nearly pro bono basis due to profits generated by popular music releases, and the removal of Nonesuch records from Hudson's represented a significant loss for the corporation. .... The MC5 then signed with Atlantic Records.
Their second album, Back in the USA, produced by future Bruce Springsteen mentor Jon Landau, virtually provided a prototype for punk rock with its short, fast, hard-edged angry guitar rock. The band sounded radically different from Kick, and McLease writes that except for Tyner's vocals, they were "barely recognizable as the same band." The second album also featured very different production from the first -- they MC5 now sounded compressed and somewhat limited in their sonic palate compared to their earlier era -- band members later said that Landau was overbearing and heavy-handed in production, trying to shape the group to his own liking.Reviews were again mixed, sales were mediocre (the album did not appear on the charts) and the MC5's tours were not as well-received as before. Exhaustion was partly to blame, from the band's heavy touring schedule and increasingly heavy drug use.They had fallen out with Sinclair, as well, and were conspicuous by their absence at the December, 1971 "Free John Sinclair" rally to protest his incarceration on marijuana possession.Their third album, High Time would also prove influential on 1970s hard rock bands like Aerosmith and KISS. The album was poorly promoted, and sales were worse than ever, but High Time was the best-reviewed of the MC5s original records upon its initial release. The group had much more creative control, and were very satisfied with the results.Both Back in the USA and High Time lost money for Atlantic Records, which dropped the band.
In 1972, Michael Davis left the band (he was using heroin and was all but forced out by the others). The remaining members recorded three new songs - "Gold," "Train Music," and "Inside Out" - in London shortly afterwards for the soundtrack of a film called Gold. This would be the band's final recording session.The group limped along a while longer, eventually reduced to Kramer and Smith touring and playing with local pick-up groups, playing R&B covers as much as their original material.The MC5 reunited for a farewell show on New Years' Eve, 1972-73 at the Grande Ballroom. The venue that had only a few years before hosted over a thousand eager fans now had a few dozen people, and, distraught, Kramer left the stage after a few songs.The band broke up shortly afterwards amidst drug-related problems.
Fred "Sonic" Smith formed a new group called Sonic's Rendezvous Band and released several albums; he later married singer Patti Smith and retired from music to raise a family, and died in 1994.Wayne Kramer made scattered appearances on other people's records before being incarcerated for drug offenses (in prison in Kentucky, Kramer was unexpectedly reunited with MC5 bassist Michael Davis, also behind bars on a drug charge). After his parole, Kramer worked straight jobs for several years and focused on kicking drugs; in the early 1990s, he returned to the music industry, and has released several well-received albums.Tyner became a successful producer, manager and promoter in Detroit; he released the warmly-reviewed Blood Brothers in 1990, and died in 1991.2003 saw the three surviving members of MC5 - Kramer, bassist Michael Davis, and drummer Dennis Thompson - performing as MC5 at the 100 Club in London with Fred 'Sonic' Smith's place being taken by Nicke Andersson of The Hellacopters, vocal chores being filled by David Vanian of The Damned, Lemmy Kilmister of Motörhead, Ian Astbury of The Cult, and singer Kate O'Brien, as well as seeing Charles Moore and Buzzy Jones reprise their roles in the brass section from the High Time album.In 2004, the band set out on an extensive world tour using the name DKT/MC5. As with the 100 Club concert, a host of special guests joined them on tour such as Mark Arm of Mudhoney, Nicke Royale of The Hellacopters, Evan Dando of The Lemonheads, Marshall Crenshaw, and others. Since February 2005, Handsome Dick Manitoba has been singing lead for the band.In May of 2006, bass player for DKT/MC5 Michael Davis injured his back in a motorcycle accident.
Information and pics courtesy of www.wikipedia.org and www.mc5.org
Rock of Ages's recommendations
|Roadstar - Grand Hotel
Whilst there is a virtual tidal wave of new classic hard rock influenced bands on the market there are only a handful that have that something special - whether that be an amazing singer or guitarist, great tunes or simply 'attitude', acts like Wolfmother, The Answer and Tokyo Dragons for example are burning up the speakers across the world and creating a new generation of rock that, in time, will be rightfully hailed as 'classic'.
Add to this esteemed company, UK rockers Roadstar - their album "Grand Hotel" (Magic Hat) **** earned them the 'Best Newcomers' crown at last year's Classic Rock Magazine Awards. Produced by our own Kevin "Caveman" Shirley, it explodes with energy from the word 'go' and whilst paying homage to the classic blues rock of the 70's it is at the same time rooted in the power and aggression of modern rock. Take a listen to Ready To Go, Magic Hat or the electrifying Let's Get It Started - you'll hear what I mean!
|Classic Rock Mag
Speaking of the new 'classic' rock bands I often get asked by listeners how I manage to find all these new bands ro play on the show - well I do a lot of surfing on the Net plus I get emailed by many bands AND I subscribe to the best rock magazine in the world - Classic Rock. Not only is it packed with great stories on the real giants of rock but every issue comes with a free CD - often previewing new bands. That's how I heard The Answer long before the album was out.....you can get it at most major city newsagents including CNA and Exclusive......
***** Volcanic....not to be missed.
**** Seismic....highly recommended...buy it!
*** Aftershock....solid effort.
** Xmas cracker...Pooof!
* Do I need to explain this?
Rock of Ages presents "Footstompin' Music"
"Footstompin' Music" is almost ready for release through Universal Music, I guess it should be in the stores at the end of February or early March at the latest. Here is a pic of the front cover for you to drool over as well as the final tracklisting:
|Rock Of Ages Presents Footstompin' Music
- Grand Funk Railroad - Footstompin' Music
- Deep Purple - Burn
- Uriah Heep - Look at yourself
- Black Sabbath - Sweat Leaf
- Thin Lizzy - Chinatown
- Robin Trower - Too rolling stoned
- Mountain - Never in my life
- Wishbone Ash - Blowin' free
- Foghat - I just wanna make love to you
- Budgie - Baby, please don't go
- Santana - Toussaint l'Overture
- Alice Cooper - Muscle of love
- Nazareth - Go down fighting
- Blue Oyster Cult - The Red & the Black
- Lynyrd Skynyrd - Gimme back my bullets
- Free - The Hunter
- Taste - What's goin' on
Keep the rock real...
Contact Rock of Ages
PO Box 53585, Kenilworth, 7745
Studio phones: 021-4342523 / 4342525
The views, opinions, rants, raves and ramblings expressed on this website are the author's own and in no way reflect the views of Radio 2000 or the SABC.
All the playlists are available in the
|Rock Of Ages News
Apple v/s Apple - Apple wins
In this corner, Apple Corps, the record label formed by The Beatles in 1968, one of the last things the band did prior to breaking up. And in this corner, the company formerly known as Apple Computer, Inc. (recently renamed Apple Inc.) which was formed in 1976 by three aspiring young geeks who built their first production run by hand in a backyard garage. Apple Corps and Apple Computer have been squabbling for so long (close to 30 years) over which has the legal right to the Apple name and logo that the legal machinations have become part of the cultural landscape. But now it's all over. Apple has won. Apple Inc. (the computer and iPod guys) has agreed to pay Apple Corps (the surviving Beatles and the estates of Lennon and Harrison) an amount somewhere between $50-million and $100-million for the rights to the Apple name. Apple Inc. will then license Apple Corps the rights to the trademarks that they're already using. The Beatles have been steadfast holdouts in licensing their catalog for digital downloading, in spite of Apple's iTunes' best efforts to secure those rights. Now that the litigation is finally over, can legal Beatles downloads be far behind?
It's a family affair + David
An announcement on the Van Halen Web site confirms that Eddie, Alex and Wolfgang (Eddie's son) Van Halen and David Lee Roth will carry the VH banner on the road for a 40-date North American summer tour,some 20 years after their last tour in which Roth participated...Teenager Wolfgang replaces the long standing Michael Anthony on bass.
Shorts Cuts....Funk rock guitar master Stevie Salas is to release a compilation called 'The Sun & The Moon: The Essential Stevie Salas'; This 26-tracker covers his 22-year career to date. It includes the songs 'Soul Ecstacy' (featuring Jerry Cantrell from Alice In Chains), 'I Was Made To Lover Her' (with Glenn Hughes) and 'Two Bullets And A Gun' (with Bootsy Collins).... The Smashing Pumpkins are to release their comeback album in July. It's to be called 'Zeitgeist'...
More Classic Rock?
I can highly recommend the About Classic Rock website run by Dave White. Not only does Dave host one of the most knowledgeable classic rock blogs on the Net but the site itself is very entertaining and informative. There are always great indepth stories on the artists and the rock quizzes are addictive. If you are like me, a classic rock fan, then the weekly About Classic Rock newletter is a must. Sign up at classicrock.about.com
More rock on R2K......
Suffering from Rock withdrawal symptoms on a Tuesday night? Well then tune the dial el pronto to Barney Simon's show between 8 and midnight every Tuesday on Radio 2000 (or R2K as Barney calls it) for the best in South African rock plus gig guide,albums reviews, demos, new releases, news from around the country and much more...... Unmissable!.... Also don't forget to catch Michelle Constant between 1pm and 3pm Monday-Friday for news, music, interviews and loads of cool stuff.... and of course.... Mo G on the morning drive, weekdays 8-10am... Exclusively on Radio 2000.
Boulevard Blues Band
11th Berties Mooring,Gordons Bay
21st Berties Mooring,Gordons Bay
23rd Corner Bar,Durbanville
The Hellphones, Holly and The Woods, Love Jones, Karma
9 February The Roxy Rhythm Bar, Main Rd, Melville
Love Jones, Karma
10th Mystic Boer,Bloemfontein
14th Independent Armchair Theatre,CT
9 February Back2Basix,Westdene
15 February The Bohemian,Richmond
10th The Winston,Durban
Josie Field (unplugged) & Laurie Levine Duo
19th Cool Runnings, Melville
25th Tings & Times,Hatfield PTA
15th Roosevelts on Bree,CT
9 Feb - Potch University Rag Potchefstroom
10 Feb - Tanz Cafe Bryanston (with Josie Field and Baz Corden)
14 Feb - Spiga D' Oro Durban
15 Feb - Society Durban (with Josie Field and Baz Corden)
Nu Folk featuring Jim Neversink, Laurie Levine Duo, The Bang and Lusk
25 February Back2Basix, Westdene
|You say it's your birthday...
Carole King - 1942
Nigel Olsson - Elton John Band - 1949
Ray Manzarek - Doors - 1939
Steve Hackett - Genesis - 1950
Ed Gagliardi - Foreigner - 1952
Peter Gabriel - Genesis - 1950
Mick Avory - Kinks - 1944
David Brown - Santana - 1947
John Helliwell - Supertramp - 1945
To receive your weekly dose of Rock News, Playlists, Recommendations, Competitions and much, much more, please join our Mailing List
Previous newsletters are available in the News Archives.
All the playlists are available in the Playlist Archives.
Stay tuned every Thursday 8-12pm for the best in classic rock on RADIO 2000.
Benjy Mudie is a self confessed 'rockaholic' with little chance of recovery... a music obsessive whose entire life has been spent in search of the lost chord... from discovering Jimi's "Are you experienced" at 13, he has constantly devoured music through lp's, singles, tapes, cds, dvds, books, magazines, film, concerts, radio, tv and the internet. His entire working life has also been music related: from running a record store and later joining WEA Records in the mid 70's through to his 21 year A&R/Marketing stint at Tusk Music where he signed some of the biggest names in South African rock and pop. The last 8 years have been spent nurturing new talent at his indie label Fresh Music and reissuing classic albums as part of it's ongoing Retro series.... To say that 'music is his first love' (to paraphrase John Miles's classic song) is somewhat understated.