Tuesday, March 06, 2012

The MC5 - Live '72 Kick Copenhagen

Yet another MC5 boot in my collection is from the tail end of the band’s career. Here, guitarists Kramer and Smith attempted to fulfill some contractual obligations despite the fact that Davis, Thompson AND Tyner had all quit the band! This is known as the MC2 Tour, though bookers cancelled most of the shows when they discovered that 3/5 of the group were not appearing.

All that said, this is not all that bad. True, the guys didn’t know the words to most of their own songs so they rely heavily on covers, but as a cover band – not as the MC5 – they were still pretty rockin’! They open, naturally enough, the the 5’s normal opener, “Ramblin’ Rose”, which always featured Wayne on lead vocals. This drags a bit and I’m assuming that the rhythm section didn’t have much time to learn the tunes, but they soldier through and it is a respectable enough beginning.

From there, they blast into the Stones’ “Empty Heart” with some real passion and K&S doing a call & response on both vocals & guitars, which shows that they still had some fire burning in them. “Bo Diddley” doesn’t work quite as well, mainly because there’s not any real guitar interplay, though they do smash out the power chords here. Fred takes over lead chores for Chuck Berry’s “Let It Rock” and they do indeed! Not quite as manic as their take on “Back in the USA”, but pretty damn good.

John Lee Hooker’s “Motor City is Burnin’” does miss Tyner’s soulful vocals, but the guys let loose with some fine blues riffage to make up for it. They prove that they were not afraid of the most obvious of covers as they do both “Gloria” & “Louie Louie” here, harkening back to their days as a 60’s garage band. Nothing highly original with these, but they do burst with some real energy and even some fun. I’ve seen some videos where they look like they are disgusted with the whole episode, but here it actually all sounds enjoyable. Of course, they had to do “Kick Out the Jams” and they infuse it with some real spunk and venom with everyone putting in 110%.

It’s sad that they greatest American rock’n’roll band just kinda fizzled and faded away, but this shows that Kramer & Smith wanted to go out kickin’ & screamin’ (literally), even though hardly anyone knew about it. This is a cool historical document, but really only for completists or for those, like me, who were interested in finding out what these two guitar greats could do on their own.