>Kick Out The Jams

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In the late 80s there was no easy way to hear music by bands you read about in the music press other than to hunt in record shops. No internet. No classic rock music magazines. No reissue industry repressing classic albums on 180 gram vinyl, cd reissues were in their infancy (and I refused to buy a cd player anyway. Take that music industry). No youtube, no mp3s, no blogs, no Hype Machine. Nothing. Today you can get on the internet and read a biography, interviews, reviews, watch videos and live perfomances, and download music in minutes. Easy.

From about 1988 I remember reading references to The MC5. They sounded great (in my imagination). The way the music, image and politics were raved about by indie rock stars and NME journos they became this huge band in my head. If only I could find the album. It took years but eventually I found a vinyl copy of Kick Out The Jams and rushed home to play it. Side 1 starts off with crowd noise and then Rob Tyner’s famous introduction and then… noisy, sludgy hard rock. Lots of it. Then noisy, sludgy hard rock with a saxophone. If Rob Tyner wanted to see ‘a sea of hands’ I didn’t feel like holding mine up. A massive disappointment.

They’re very of their time, very late 60s/early 70s USA, and their political stance seems oddly quaint now- ‘dope, guns and fucking in the street’- what’s that going to do house prices? Dope, well maybe the odd weekend, guns no thank you very much, and the rest? I don’t want to see my neighbours at it on the tarmac.

In the end I got into them. I still think KOTJ is over-rated but parts of it have grown on me, not least the title track. Years later again bought a cd player and then a cd compilation, and then reissues of their other two albums and it makes more sense. The second album Back In The USA is much better with it’s streamlined Ramones style punk and the third, High Time, is my favourite- they remembered to write songs with tunes and dynamics. I suppose it’s also their most conventional. This track Over And Over is a good ‘un, from High Time, 1971. Listening to this I get what the fuss is about.

19 Over and Over.wma

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