Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The MC5 – Starship - Live at the Sturgis Armory 6-27-68

The recent, tragic passing of Michael Davis reminded me of my quest to write about the many MC5 boots that I have in my collection, of varying quality. This one is one of the better ones that I have found. The sound is decent – not excellent, but pretty good for what I assume is an audience recording from 1968. This seems to be a pretty accurate representation of their set at the time. They open with the ubiquitous (and fabulous) “Kick Out the Jams” and move into the sex-personified “Come Together” before showing their love for James Brown (which they did on many occasions) with a medley of “Cold Sweat”/”I Can’t Stand Myself”/”There Was a Time”, which is pretty damn good for a bunch of white boys! Tyner was always mighty soulful and the boys back him up in fine style – bassist Davis is highlighted here, in fact. Side one of the vinyl ends with a powerful rendition of the terrific “Borderline”.

Side two shows off the band’s jazzier side. I heard rumors that they were hoping that the Kick Out the Jams record would be a double album which would explore this part of their repertoire a bit more and I’m assuming that this is what would have been included. The begin with a hard-rockin’ – and great - version of Pharoh Sander’s “Upper Egypt” and then they include their interpretation of Sun Ra’s “Starship”, made famous from the KOTJ album. This is somewhat slower than the “official” version, but pretty damn close to it, considering that it was mostly a jam! Their infamous “Black To Comm” ends the set and I think this is one of the better – and noisier! – takes that I’ve heard! This tune remained with them throughout their career and it’s a shame that it was never “officially” recorded, but maybe that keeps it legendary. In any case, a phenomenal closer!

Again, not for the casual listener, as the sound quality is good for a bootleg, but not perfect by any stretch of the imagination. But fans should own this one!