Kick Out the Jams



Found this video recently, and in my mind its shows everything that is awesome and strange about The MC5. To say the least, they were definitely a band that existed in their own world in the late 60s. With the exception of fellow Detroit-ians, The Stooges no one was playing music as aggressive as this.

A friend of mine once suggested that the world wasn’t ready for The MC5. If you look closely at the faces of the some people in the crowd there’s a sense of shock there. It’s also amusing to see how the band looks – they still look like hippies but are playing something that is more akin to the Sex Pistols than say, Creedence Clearwater Revival or the Grateful Dead.  Singer Rob Tyner also looks like a pissed off Art Garfunkel with his huge afro.

You can see the beginnings of punk in this video – as the band pushes itself to its limit and test their audience. Of course that musical revolution wouldn’t happen for another five or six years.

Check out the video, and kick out the jams, motherfucker.


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5 responses to “Kick Out the Jams

  1. I can remember hearing this song for the first time. Instead of the explicit it was edited to say ” Kick out the jams brothers and sisters” I purchased the abum later and the unedited took me by surprise because I was expecting “brothers and sisters” not “mothers************. Great band Thanks for the video

    • I’ve never heard the edited version and had no idea that “brothers and sisters” was used. Kind of funny that an inviting term is used in place of one of the most vulgar insults one can throw around.

  2. I remember the first time I watched this video, I was amazed Wayne Kramer could play while dancing so well. Though there’s another video out there where Fred “Sonic” Smith is wearing a full-on spacesuit that takes the cake.

    I don’t think they were so much “ahead of their time” as self-defeating. I’m thinking specifically about how there was a major retailer who asked for “Kick Out the Jams” to be edited. A reasonable request, even today. The record company did, which angered the band, who proceeded to take out a full-page ad in the major Detroit newspaper telling said retailer to go screw themselves.

    Needless to say, the edit was soon worthless as the album was dropped anyway.

    • Kevin

      You raise a good point: the MC5 didn’t exactly court mainstream success, and actually went out of their way to alienate a mass audience. The “Fuck Hudsons” campaign is a great example. Throw in drug abuse and legal problems, and “self-defeating” is a good way to put it. Still, I would argue that they never had much of a chance at anything other than cult status anyway. Their music and politics were just too radical for the 1960s, but they did set a template for future, more commercially viable bands, including the Stooges and much of the subsequent punk scene. Subversive politics, profane publicity stunts, and violent music didn’t make the MC5 stars, but worked wonders for the Sex Pistols. Different time and place, but still.

    • “Sonic” Smith wearing a space-suit? Sounds hilarious. I always find it kind of funny that he ended up marrying Patti Smith – who definitely was groundbreaking for sure.

      I get what you mean about them being self-defeating. But isn’t that because of the times they were living in? That the culture around them wasn’t ready for what they were offering.

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