Hard Rock/Heavy Rock and Roll/Proto Punk Rock U.S.A. (Tracks) 1970s MC5 – “Sister Anne”

MC5 – “Sister Anne” Video on YouTube

MC5 – “High Time” Full Album Playlist on Spotify

Category/Music Genres :

Hard Rock/Heavy Rock and Roll/Proto Punk Rock U.S.A. 1970s

Band :

MC5 (Detroit, Michigan, U.S.A.)

MC5 Band’s Photo

Members :
Wayne Kramer (guitar), Fred “Sonic” Smith (guitar, vocals, bass, 1963-92), Leo LeDuc (drums, 1963-64), Billy Vargo (guitar, 1963-64), Bob Gaspar (drums, 1964–65), Rob Tyner (vocals, bass, 1964, 1965-72), Patrick Burrows (bass, 1964–65), Michael Davis (bass, 1965-72, 1992-2012), Dennis Thompson(drums, 1965-72, 1992-2012), Steve Moorhouse (bass, 1972), Derek Hughes (bass, 1972), Ray Craig (bass, 1972), Ritchie Dharma (drums, 1972), Handsome Dick Manitoba (vocals, 2005-12)
Related Artists :
Also known as :
Motor City Five, MC/5, DKT/MC5, MC5 – DKT, Bounty Hunters [1963-64]

Track :

“Sister Anne” A1 (written by Fred Sonic Smith), (opening track) included on the album “High Time”

Album :

“High Time”, released on Atlantic Records (SD 8285) in 1971

Album’s cover photo


High Time is the second studio album (and third album overall) by the American rock band MC5, released in 1971 by Atlantic Records.

Line-up/Credits :

MC5 :

Michael Davis – bass, vocals, ka (track 7), production

Wayne Kramer – guitar, vocals, piano (tracks 2 and 3), production

Fred “Sonic” Smith – guitar, vocals, harmonica (track 1), organ (track 1), sandpaper (track 2), production, cover concept (as Frederico Smithelini)

Dennis Thompson – drums, vocals (track 1), tambourine (track 1, 2 and 7), reen (tracks 2, 5), tamboes (track 4), acme scraper (track 5), percussion (track 8), production

Rob Tyner – vocals, harmonica (track 1), maracas (track 1), rockas (track 2), castanets (track 6), conga (track 8), production, cover cartoon illustration

Additional Personnel :

Pete Kelly – piano on “Sister Anne”

Dan Bullock – trombone on “Skunk”

Ellis Dee – percussion on “Skunk”

Lil’ Bobby Wayne Derminer – wizzer on “Future/Now”

Merlene Driscoll – vocals on “Sister Anne”

Rick Ferretti – trumpet on “Skunk”

Dave Heller – percussion on “Skunk”

Leon Henderson – tenor saxophone on “Skunk”

Joanne Hill – vocals on “Sister Anne”

Larry Horton – trombone on “Sister Anne”

Skip “Van Winkle” Knapé – organ on “Miss X”

Brenda Knight – vocals on “Sister Anne”

Kinki Le Pew – percussion on “Gotta Keep Movin”

Charles Moore – flugelhorn, vocals on “Sister Anne”, trumpet, horn arrangement on “Skunk”

Dr. Dave Morgan – percussion on “Skunk”

Scott Morgan – percussion on “Skunk” Butch O’Brien – bass drum on “Sister Anne”

David Oversteak – tuba on “Sister Ane”

Bob Seger – percussion on “Skunk

Technical :

Geoffrey Haslam – production, engineering

Mark Schulman – art direction

Francis Ing – cover photography

Written-By – Fred Smith

Credits :

Phonographic Copyright (p) – Atlantic Recording Corporation

Published By – Motor City Music

Published By – Cotillion Music

Manufactured By – Atlantic Recording Corporation

Recorded At – Artie Fields Studios

Pressed By – Presswell

Lacquer Cut At – Atlantic Studios

Art Direction – Mark Schulman (2)

Concept By – Frederico Smithelini

Cover, Photography By – Francis Ing

Design – MC5

Lacquer Cut By – George Piros

Producer – Geoffrey Haslam, MC5

Track-List :

1. Sister Anne (Fred Sonic Smith) – 7:23
2. Baby Won’t Ya (Fred Sonic Smith) – 5:32
3. Miss X (Wayne Kramer) – 5:08
4. Gotta Keep Movin’ (Dennis Thompson) – 3:24
5. Future/Now (Rob Tyner) – 6:21
6. Poison (Wayne Kramer) – 3:24
7. Over And Over (Fred Sonic Smith) – 5:13
8. Skunk (Sonicly Speaking) (Fred Sonic Smith) – 5:31

Lyrics :

Sister Anne don’t give a damn about evolution
She’s a liberated woman, she’s got her solution
Like a dinosaur, she’s going off the wall
She’s gonna make it her own crusade
She’s got a heart of gold
Gonna save a bitch’s soul
From goin’ down
Satan’s hot way
She can, I know she can
I know she can, she’s my sister Anne
Such truth, such beauty, such purity
She wears a halo around her head
She’s got the Ten Commandments tattooed on her arm
If she died she’d rise up from the dead
She’s every man savior and
Mama too
If you do it she said
She’ll save hell from you
She can, I know she can
I know she can, she’s my sister Anne
Sister, won’t you tell me where I went so wrong
I used to say my prayers baby, all night long
I’d listen to the Gospel ringing in my ears
Come on sister Anne, save me from my fears
If you can, I know you can
I know you can, you’re my sister Anne
Sister, won’t you tell me where I went so wrong
I used to say my prayers baby, all night long
I’d listen to the Gospel ringing in my ears
Come on sister Anne, save me from my fears
If you can, I know you can
I know you can, you’re my sister Anne
After Sunday school Mass she goes to see her man
She always does the best that she can
She never tries to tease, she always aims to please
She’s gonna squeeze you tight and make you feel alright
‘Cause she can, I know she can
I know she can, she’s my sister Anne
I know she can, she’s my sister Anne
I know she can, she’s my sister Anne
She’s my sister Anne
She’s my sister Anne
She’s my sister Anne
Songwriters: Fred Smith
Sister Anne lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc
Information about the album, band and track :
“All Music”

Alongside their Detroit-area brethren the Stooges, MC5 essentially laid the foundations for the emergence of punk; deafeningly loud and uncompromisingly intense, the group’s politics were ultimately as crucial as their music, their revolutionary sloganeering and anti-establishment outrage crystallizing the counterculture movement at its most volatile and threatening. Under the guidance of svengali John Sinclair (the infamous founder of the radical White Panther Party), MC5 celebrated the holy trinity of sex, drugs, and rock & roll, their incendiary live sets offering a defiantly bacchanalian counterpoint to the peace-and-love reveries of their hippie contemporaries. Although corporate censorship, label interference, and legal hassles combined to cripple the band’s hopes of mainstream notoriety, both their sound and their sensibility remain seminal influences on successive generations of artists.

The Motor City Five formed in Lincoln Park, MI, in late 1964 by vocalist Rob Tyner, guitarists Fred “Sonic” Smith and Wayne Kramer, bassist Pat Burrows, and drummer Bob Gaspar; at the time, its members were still in high school, appearing at local parties and teen hangouts while clad in matching stage uniforms. In time, however, Smith and Kramer began experimenting with feedback and distortion, a development that hastened the exits of Burrows and Gaspar during the fall of 1965; adding bassist Michael Davis and drummer Dennis Thompson a year later, MC5 landed a regular gig at the famed Detroit venue the Grande Ballroom, building a fanatical local fan base on the strength of their increasingly anarchic live appearances. Soon the band caught the attention of Sinclair, a former high school English teacher anointed the Motor City’s “King of the Hippies” after founding Trans Love Energies, the umbrella name applied to the many underground enterprises he operated, including his White Panther Party, a radical political faction espousing “total assault on the culture by any means necessary, including rock & roll, dope, and f*cking in the streets.”

In early 1967, Sinclair was named MC5’s manager; within months they issued their debut single, “I Can Only Give You Everything.” As the official house band of the White Panthers, they became musical conduits for the party’s political rhetoric, taking the stage draped in American flags and calling for a revolution; run-ins with the law became increasingly common, although in the wake of the Detroit riots of July 1967, the group relocated to the nearby college town of Ann Arbor. The following summer, MC5 appeared in Chicago at the Yippies’ Festival of Life, a rally mounted in opposition to the Democratic National Convention, and in the audience was Elektra Records A&R executive Danny Fields, who signed the band a few months later. Their debut album, the classic Kick Out the Jams, was recorded live at the Grande Ballroom on October 30 and 31, 1968; although the album reached the national Top 30, retailers, including the Hudson’s chain, refused to carry copies due to its inclusion of Tyner’s trademark battle cry of “Kick out the jams, motherf*ckers!” The controversy spurred MC5 to run advertisements in the underground press reading “F*ck Hudson’s!” Against the band’s wishes, Elektra also issued a censored version of the album, replacing the offending expletive with “brothers and sisters.”

When the dust settled, MC5 was dropped by Elektra; when Sinclair was subsequently jailed for possession of marijuana, the band was left without their manager and without a contract. They signed to Atlantic, where producer Jon Landau was installed to helm their second album, 1970’s Back in the U.S.A.; with Sinclair out of the picture, the music’s political stance vanished as well, with a newly stripped-down, razor-sharp sound replacing the feedback-driven fury of before. The record’s approach divided fans and critics, however, and when the 1971 follow-up High Time failed to even reach the charts, Atlantic released MC5 from their contract; in addition to filing for bankruptcy, the group was dogged by mounting drug problems and in early 1972, Davis was dismissed from the lineup as a result of heroin abuse. Bassist Steve Moorhouse stepped in as his replacement, but soon after, both Tyner and Thompson announced their retirement from active touring; on New Year’s Eve of 1972, the group played their final gig, appearing at the Grande Ballroom — the site of so many past glories — for just 500 dollars.

As the years went by, however, MC5’s influence expanded; punk, hard rock, and power pop all clearly reflected the band’s impact and by the 1990s, they were the subject of a steady stream of reissues and rarities packages. Following the band’s demise, its members pursued new projects: Tyner released several solo records and also earned acclaim for his photography before suffering a fatal heart attack on September 17, 1991. Smith, meanwhile, formed Sonic’s Rendezvous with fellow Detroit music legend Scott Morgan, issuing the underground classic “City Slang” in 1977 before leaving the group; in 1980 he wed Patti Smith, dying of heart failure on November 4, 1994. After spending much of the following decades battling drug addiction — including a two-year prison stint — Kramer resurfaced in 1995 with a blistering solo album, The Hard Stuff, the first of several new efforts for punk label Epitaph. Less successful were Davis, who seemingly disappeared from sight after a tenure with underground legends Destroy All Monsters (he died of liver failure on February 17, 2012 at the age of 68), and Thompson, whose solo ambitions went largely unrealized.

“The Great Rock Bible”

A group known to “Kick Out The Jams” long before Detroit rivals The STOOGES and the East Coast’s truest proto-punks, NEW YORK DOLLS, MC5 (or the Motor City Five) defined the garage generation of the mid-to-late 60s. Overtly political and almost nihilistic and incendiary in their uncompromising, anti-hippie rock’n’roll, messrs Rob Tyner, Wayne Kramer, Fred “Sonic” Smith, Michael Davis and Dennis Thompson, blasted out their revolutionary molotov cocktails to any MF who gave them the time of day. Pioneers in the true sense of the word, the MC5 (together with IGGY & The STOOGES) were the first real punk bands – originators who were never bettered.
Formed late in 1964 while still at school in Lincoln Park, Michigan, the group drifted into the nearby Detroit scene when guitarists, Wayne Kramer and Fred “Sonic” Smith, combined forces from respective R&B combos, The Bounty Hunters and The Vibratones; left-wing activist, Rob Tyner, was drafted in as manager (then bassist), but his stage aura and gospel/soul vox was commanding enough to receive frontman upgrade. Rehearsing in Kramer’s mother’s basement proved futile for two of its embryonic alumni, and bassist Pat Burrows and drummer Bob Gaspar made way for Michael Davies and Dennis Thompson respectively.
The buzz for the band around Detroit was spreading like wildfire, relatively small 1000-capacity venues were quickly selling out with each successive gig; the name MC5 was soon bandied about in the same breath as CREAM and BIG BROTHER & THE HOLDING COMPANY, two outfits they duly supported. Meanwhile, maintaining their far left-wing independent approach, the hard-edged quintet delivered their debut platter in ’67, by way of a version of THEM’s `I Can Only Give You Everything’. A year on, pressings of their second 45, `Looking At You’ (b/w `Borderline’) went through the roof as 1000 limited copies went sevenfold.
Through Elektra Records A&R man, Danny Fields, who was initially only interested in taking in a show by rivals The STOOGES (through Kramer’s recommendation!), MC5 were also snapped up mid-’68. Boosted by the help of counter-cultural activist and DJ, John Sinclair (who also became the band’s manager), he influenced both their political extremism and warped takes on free-jazz improvisation. Reflecting the harsher geographical and economic climate of Detroit, the band espoused revolution and struggle as opposed to the love-and-peace ethos of the sun-kissed Californian flower children.
The riotous proto-punk of their legendary, acid-fuelled live show was captured on the controversial debut long-player, KICK OUT THE JAMS {*8}. Recorded at Detroit’s Grande Ballroom on Halloween ‘68, the record eventually hit the shops the following February and, while the original uncensored pressings contained the line “kick out the jams, motherfucker!” on the title track, the offending word was later supplanted with the milder “brothers and sisters”. Unfortunately, this wasn’t enough to prevent some record stores from refusing to stock it, and after the band explicitly aired their views on one of the aforementioned dealers in a local newspaper, they were duly given the boot by Elektra. Nevertheless, the album reached No.30 and, although it sounds a bit dated to modern ears, it was way radical for the time, remaining an inspiration to each new generation of noise-niks. As visceral and volatile as The WHO in their speaker-smashing heyday, the set opened with a smash ’n’ grab re-model of a C&W tune, `Ramblin’ Rose’. Complete with radical introductions, including a rap by “6th member” Brother J.C. Crawford on a re-vamp of SUN RA’s `Starship’, their relentless energy never subsided on the likes of `I Want You Right Now’, `Come Together’ and Al Smith’s initially uncredited, `Motor City Is Burning’.
After a split with Sinclair, MC5 hooked up with Atlantic Records and began to move away from the overtly subversive nature of their earlier material to a more straight-ahead rock approach, evidenced on their Jon Landau-produced follow-up album, BACK IN THE USA (1970) {*7}. Wired rock’n’roll of an impeccable degree, the record didn’t fare well in the laid-back, doped-up climate of the early 70s. Bookended by pedestrian cover versions of LITTLE RICHARD’s `Tutti Frutti’ and CHUCK BERRY’s `Back In The USA’, this set was more stuck in the past than the future, MC5 now emerging as prototype power-poppers rather than punks. Still, if one couldn’t get one’s mop-top head around unadulterated youth tunes as `Tonight’, `Teenage Lust’ and the NEIL DIAMOND-esque `Shakin’ Street’, then one could always look to The STOOGES – although they’d just split.
An ambitious Geoffrey Haslam-produced third album, HIGH TIME (1971) {*6}, featuring horns and even Salvation army musicians, failed to cut any commercial ice and the band split in 1972. The record itself was a long way from the politics of “Jams”, and it seemed their hard-rock boogie-ing took lineage from The VELVET UNDERGROUND (at least in a “Loaded” sense”). Smith’s lengthy opening piece, `Sister Anne’, was probably the most wigged-out piece on board, while his STOOGES-cloned `Baby Won’t Ya’ was also memorable; check it out too for Kramer’s first stab at `Poison’.
Kramer subsequently spent five years in jail for cocaine dealing before embarking on a low key solo career, while former manager, Sinclair, was sentenced to ten years in the early 70s for a minor dope charge, serving only two after appeal. Tragically, Rob Tyner died from a heart attack on September 17, 1991, aged only 46. Smith (hubby of PATTI SMITH) died of heart failure on November 4, 1994 – it seemed there was no way back for the group.
But like the aforementioned STOOGES, it was only a matter of time before MC5 got back in the saddle, Wayne Kramer (now with several solo sets behind him), Davis and Thompson enlisting former DICTATORS frontman, Handsome Dick Manitoba, to boost the live line-up from 2005 onwards; sadly, Michael Davis was next to let go his mortal coil when he died of liver failure on February 17, 2012.

“Financial Times”

You may have read this story before. Lord knows, I have: a person rises to prominence in a field, often a branch of entertainment. After considerable success, temptation enters in the form of substances that are suddenly affordable. Soon, they take over, precipitating a plummet. A struggle occurs and, after much effort, the person, often with the help of acknowledged others, emerges triumphant. In this case, the person is Wayne Kramer, a name not known to many, but revered by a select number, particularly around Detroit, because he was a member of the MC5, a band whose reputation far exceeded their record sales. Detroit in 1968 was an odd place: scarred by recent riots, it had a huge working class, powerful unions, a booming economy based on automobiles, and when its hippie revolutionaries appeared, there were a lot of sons and daughters of autoworkers among them. Their celebrity was John Sinclair, an older poet with tonnes of charisma, whose communal house, the Artists Workshop, was a centre for art and politics. Sinclair promoted black art, particularly avant-garde jazz, but saw no reason why a rock band couldn’t play like that. He was also eyeing the Black Panthers, and liked their programme of community involvement and self-determination. Enter the MC5, an emerging hard-rock band (the MC stood for Motor City) with fans, a lot of energy. They were local favourites right up there with the Stooges (fronted by Iggy Pop), the Rationals, and Bob Seger and the Last Heard, all of whom made music that was loud, abrasive. It was in distinct contrast to that other Detroit sound, the smooth pan-racial pop Berry Gordy strove to create for his Motown label. The MC5, unlike the others, were taken under Sinclair’s wing, adopted his politics — inspired by the Black Panthers, Sinclair had founded the White Panther party — and got a major record deal with Elektra Records. The resulting debacle — Sinclair going to jail for a small amount of marijuana, the MC5 getting kicked off their label months after their record came out, their struggle to stay together — is the foundation of their legend. Rock has a special place in its heart for the almost-made-its, and the MC5 is up there with the best. Their story has never been told from the inside, but I got suspicious when, early on, Kramer refers to the MC5 as “my band”. As any Detroiter who was there will tell you, the stars were Kramer, his partner in guitar Fred “Sonic” Smith, and vocalist Rob Tyner, whose gigantic white-boy Afro and deeply committed stage presence gave the noise coming through the amps its focus. (And noise it often was: not for nothing are they considered among the ancestors of punk.) You’ll learn a lot about the MC5 in this book, but only when Kramer’s the centre of attention.

It’s obvious from the title that heroin, which swept through Detroit at the end of the decade, numbered the band, and Kramer, among its victims. The entire second half of the text, though, is about Kramer’s up-and-down relationship with the drug, his incarceration at the Federal Correctional Institute in Lexington, Kentucky (a place whose list of former inmates would read like the greatest jam session ever held), and his continuing inability to stay clean. He finally makes it, and thrives, doing prison outreach with the Jail Guitar Doors initiative, marrying a strong woman, and even gathering the surviving members of the band for several international tours. By this time, though, both Tyner and Smith were dead, meaning that now it really was Kramer’s band. I found it significant that he briefly mentions Smith’s death, but does not mention that at the time, he was long retired, living in Detroit with his very famous wife, Patti Smith, who does not even merit a name-check. Also unmentioned is his long campaign to shut down a documentary film, MC5: A True Testimonial, which took two fans more than seven years to compile. They eventually prevailed, but were unable to afford the music rights after a long lawsuit.
For a man who so readily admits his faults, it would have been nice to learn why he so vehemently fought its release, but I suspect that if you have paid attention to The Hard Stuff until the end, you will make an educated guess.
“Musician Biographies”

Members included Michael Davis (born June 5, 1943; attended Wayne State University), bass; Wayne Kramer (born Wayne Kambes, April 30, 1948, in Detroit, MI), guitar; Fred Smith (born August 14, 1948, in West Virginia), guitar; Dennis Thompson (born Dennis Tomich, September 7, 1948), drums; and Rob Tyner (born Rob Derminer, December 12, 1944; died of heart failure, September 17, 1991), vocals.

The mid-1960s was a turbulent time for Detroit, and the music of the Motor City Five–or MC5, as they would become known–stood as an aural reflection of events like the Cass Corridor race riots and area youth protests. Although rock music has become synonymous with censorship issues and the confrontation of authority, the MC5, vocalist Rob Tyner, guitarists Wayne Kramer and Fred “Sonic” Smith, bassist Michael Davis, and drummer Dennis Thompson, were one of the first bands to stand up for freedom of speech and expression in performance. In explaining the band’s enormous influence, Village Voice contributor Mike Rubin asserted in 1991 that the MC5’s aggressive approach “lives on in any heavy metal band from Motley Crue to Metallica, and their antiestablishment posture was at a least as big an influence on punk rock.”

The MC5 did not start out as the innovative bad boys they would later become. The band formed in the winter of 1964 from the ashes of Smith and Kramer’s junior high rhythm and blues band, the Bountyhunters. Initially, the Five were a pedestrian rock and roll outfit whose concert repertoire relied primarily on the material of other, more-famous performers. The band quickly earned a reputation with concert promoters, however, for showing up late–if at all–playing too loudly, and often not playing long enough to satisfy concertgoers. Not yet quite “bad,” the MC5 were at this point merely irresponsible.

As if their unreliable reputation was not enough to hamper their progress, the MC5 soon found themselves in competition with the Motown sound. While Motown Records and its rhythm and blues acts were putting the Detroit music scene on the map, they were also creating a formidable shadow from which young rock and roll acts found it difficult to escape. Vocalist Tyner commented on this predicament in Motorbooty magazine, stating, “To be a white singer in Detroit at that time, you simply were the wrong man for the job; I did not feel comfortable as a performer until I could pull off James Brown material without flaw.”

As luck would have it, the MC5 found a patron of sorts in John Sinclair. Sinclair was a poet and musician, known around Detroit’s Wayne State University as the “king of the beatniks.” He was a fan of the Five and after witnessing their state of affairs–the band’s equipment was being repossessed due to nonpayment–offered his services as manager. Along with his managerial approach, Sinclair instilled in the band his political beliefs, which leaned toward socialism. He viewed the group as a tool for the promotion of an ideology that he and the band developed in emulation of 1960s political agitators the Black Panthers. They dubbed their dogma the White Panther Ten-Point Plan; its most infamous tenets were “dope, guns, and f—ing in the streets.” Essentially, the plan called for freedom from everything and the abolition of money. In Guitar Army, Sinclair’s book chronicling his life with the MC5, the poet-provocateur summed up the spirit of the time: “We were totally committed to carrying out our program. We breathed revolution. We were LSD-driven total maniacs in the universe. We would do anything we could to drive people out of their heads and into their bodies. Rock and roll was the spearhead of our attack because it was so effective and so much fun.”

While Sinclair’s guidance put the MC5 on a more professional path, difficulties with club owners continued; at one concert at Detroit’s Grande Ballroom the Five burned an American flag onstage and raised in its place a banner with the word “Freak” emblazoned across it. At the end of the show, a nude fan climbed onstage and began to meditate. Club owner Gabe Glantz was none too amused. In Guitar Army Sinclair elaborated on the incident, recalling, “Glantz started ranting at Tyner and me about ‘committing crimes’ and ‘obscenity’ and ‘Is that what you think of your country?,’ threatening us with eternal expulsion from the Grande.” The group was, in fact, temporarily banned from the venue. The exile did not last because the group attracted significantly large crowds to their concerts.

In August of 1968 the MC5 were invited to perform at the Youth International Party’s “Festival of Life” in Chicago’s Lincoln Park. Although not officially labeled a protest of the Democratic National Convention, the “Yippie” festival was mounted simultaneously with the convention to show, as Sinclair put it in Guitar Army,“a sharp contrast to the way of death epitomized by the Democratic Death Convention.” Securing their place in history, the MC5’s appearance at the festival helped spark the 1968 Chicago riot. In Motorbooty, bassist Michael Davis recounted the event: “We were doing the show and everything was going okay when all of a sudden from over a hill came a huge line of policemen in riot gear charging toward the crowd. We packed up our gear as fast as we could and barely made it out before complete chaos ensued.”

Events like the Chicago riot and the political reservations of concert promoters began to wear on the nerves of the band and created a rift between them and Sinclair. The division of the band’s income became a major concern. Tyner commented in Zig Zag magazine, “I invested a lot of trust in John Sinclair, and he just kept bleeding us for money, we never knew where the money was going.” Tyner elaborated in Motorbooty, stating, “[Sinclair’s] politics were so out to lunch, [but] we were the ones getting our heads busted open onstage every night and he was the one getting the money.”

The band’s first LP, Kick Out the Jams, released by Elektra Records, was recorded live at the Grande Ballroom in October of 1968. Zig Zag called it “a quasi-political holocaust of white noise and skin-deep [jazz saxophonist John] Coltrane.” While that comment was meant as a compliment, Rolling Stone compared the release unfavorably to the San Francisco band Blue Cheer and criticized the album’s raw production values. Still, though the recording’s quality perhaps failed to showcase the musical abilities of the MC5, it amply succeeded in capturing the energy, power, innovation, and political sloganeering of the Detroit group. Songs like “Come Together” called for the unification of youth, while “Starship” was a free acid-jazz odyssey featuring the band at their most experimental. Obscene lyrics in the title track caused such an uproar that Elektra was forced to terminate the MC5’s recording contract.

Back in the U.S.A., the group’s second LP, was released by Atlantic Records in 1970. While not as overtly political as the band’s previous effort, it did showcase the developing songwriting and musicianship of the performers. Owing largely to production values brought to the project by rock critic Jon Landau, the second LP was much more of a pop record than Kick Out the Jams, as was intimated by the selection of rock and roll pioneer Chuck Berry’s song as the release’s title track. Cowabunga magazine concluded that the Five were “rediscovering their roots” and that Back in the U.S.A. was primarily a work about “life as a teenager.” The mood of the record was light, evidenced by the inclusion of 1950s shouter Little Richard’s “Tutti-Frutti.” Also featured on the record was the soulful ballad “Let Me Try.” The Detroit publication Big Fat criticized the band’s new direction, commenting, “Superficially it was fair rock and roll, best in its tightness and [conciseness] worst in its shallowness and lack of invention.”

The MC5’s third and last LP, High Time, attempted to combine the energy and inventiveness of Kick Out the Jams with the studio technology, control, and coherence of Back in the U.S.A. Unlike the first two LPs, High Time contained all original compositions, from the Kick Out the Jams -styled “Skunk” to the Back in the U.S.A. -reminiscent “Sister Anne.” Though critically acclaimed in some circles, High Time suffered the most dismal sales figures of the band’s three releases.

Interest in the MC5 has remained constant since their demise in 1972. Indeed, their spirit lives on in the many “alternative” and mainstream bands who emulate their style and rebelliousness. The Seattle “grunge” revolution of the early 1990s owed much to Detroit’s pioneering noisemakers, and the purveyors of that sound were not shy about disclosing this influence. In a retrospective of the MC5, Big Fat remembered, “Not since the summer of 1967 had a band possessed the power to illicit such a broad and strong response from an audience. If the Five’s revolutionary ambitions were grand, so was their ability to win over and activate.”

by Barry Henssler


The MC5 is an American rock band formed in Lincoln Park, Michigan and originally active from 1964 to 1972. The original band line-up consisted of vocalist Rob Tyner, guitarists Wayne Kramer and Fred “Sonic” Smith, bassist Michael Davis, and drummer Dennis Thompson. “Crystallizing the counterculture movement at its most volatile and threatening”, according to Allmusic critic Stephen Thomas Erlewine, the MC5’s far left political ties and anti-establishment lyrics and music positioned them as emerging innovators of the punk movement in the United States. Their loud, energetic style of back-to-basics rock ‘n’ roll included elements of garage rock, hard rock, blues-rock, and psychedelic rock.

The MC5 had a promising beginning which earned them a cover appearance on Rolling Stone magazine in 1969 even before their debut album was released. They developed a reputation for energetic and polemical live performances, one of which was recorded as their 1969 debut album Kick Out The Jams. Their initial run was ultimately short-lived, though within just a few years of their dissolution in 1972, the MC5 were often cited as one of the most important American hard rock groups of their era. Their three albums are regarded by many as classics, and their song “Kick Out the Jams” is widely covered.

Tyner died of a heart attack in late 1991, aged 46. Smith also died of a heart attack, in 1994, at the age of 45. The band reformed in 2003 with The Dictators’ singer Handsome Dick Manitoba as its new vocalist, and this reformed line-up sometimes performed live until Davis died of liver failure in February 2012 at the age of 68. MC5 were nominated for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, in 2002, 2016 and 2018.

Photos about the album/band/track :

MC5 – “High Time” Album cover photo (front)


MC5 – “High Time” Album photo (A’ Side)

MC5 – “High Time” Album photo (B’ Side)

MC5 – “High Time” Album Artwork Photo


MC5 Band’s Photo

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MC5 Band’s Photo

The MC5, circa 1970. From left: Wayne Kramer, Fred Smith, Rob Tyner, Dennis Thompson and Michael Davis.

GAB Archive/Redferns

Links about the album/band/track :

MC5 – “Sister Anne” Video file link on YouTube

MC5 – “High Time” Full Album Video Playlist on YouTube

MC5 Band’s Page on Spotify

MC5 Band’s Page on Discogs

MC5 Band’s Page on Rate Your Music

MC5 Band’s Page on Apple Music

MC5 Band’s Page on Google Play

MC5 Band’s Page on Facebook

MC5/MC50 Band’s Page on Facebook

MC5/MC50 Band’s Homepage

MC5 – “History – Part 1” on Punk 77 Website

MC5 Band’s Homepage

MC5 Band’s Page on Michigan Rock and Roll Legends

MC5 “5 Things You Might Not Know About The MC5” Article on Rhino Records

MC5 “Exclusive Interview: Detroit music legend & founder of rock band The MC5, WAYNE KRAMER, on his new memoir ‘The Hard Stuff’!” Interview on Detroit Bookfest

MC5 “Wayne Kramer on 50 years of the MC5″Article/Interview on Detroit Metro Times

MC5 “Shattered Dreams in Motor City: The Demise of the MC 5 They wanted to be bigger than the Beatles. Manager John Sinclair wanted them to be bigger than Mao. How a revolution fizzled” Article on Rolling Stone

MC5 “MC5: The Most Radical Band on the Planet” Article on Detroit Artists Workshop

MC5 Band’s Page on Make My Day Website

MC5 Band’s Page on eBay

MC5 “Wayne Kramer, Rock Legend And Failed Outlaw, Assembles A Supergroup In The Rearview” Article/Interview on NPR

MC5 Band’s Page on Mark Prindle

MC5 – “High Time” Full Album Download Link on Rockasteria Blog

MC5 – “High Time” Full Album Download Link on Rock and Roll Archives Website