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MC5

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Detroit, United States (1966 – present)

The MC5 was a hard rock band that came out of Detroit, USA in 1966. Their blend of furious hard rock and intense political sentiment was a critical influence on the rock movement of the 70s.

Standing for “Motor City Five”, MC5 established themselves with their first album, Kick Out the Jams, recorded live on October 30 and 31, 1968. The album caused some controversy due to the title track Kick Out the Jams rallying cry of “kick out the jams, motherfuckers,” and John Sinclair’s inflammatory liner notes. The album concluded with Starship, a cover of a Sun Ra song. Critic Mark Deming notes that Kick “is one of the most powerfully energetic live albums ever made … this is an album that refuses to be played quietly.”

When Hudson’s, a Detroit based department store, refused to stock the LP, the MC5 responded with a full page advertisement in the Fifth Estate saying “Fuck Hudson’s!”, prominently including the Elektra Records logo in the ad. Hudson’s pulled all records on Elektra, the MC5’s label, and Jac Holzman, the head of Elektra, dropped the band. The band then signed with Atlantic Records.

Their second album, Back in the USA virtually provided a prototype for punk rock with its short, fast, hard-edged angry guitar rock. Also, a recording glitch removed much of the album’s low end, which would become a major influence on punk’s “tinny roar”. Their third album, High Time would also prove influential on 1970s hard rock bands like Aerosmith and Kiss. Both Back in the USA and High Time lost money for Atlantic Records, which dropped the band.

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