Saturday, January 8, 2011
THE MC5 - KICK OUT THE JAMS (1968 promo version)
Wow, Rich. Fraud? That's a pretty strong word. Well, I wouldn't say it if this 45 didn't exist to back it up. This is the ORIGINAL version of "Kick Out The Jams", which was only available as a giveaway promo 45 at the group's free Fillmore East concert in New York in 1968 - about 6 months before the group's LP of the same name was released - and, as you can hear, lead singer Rob Tyner sings "KICK OUT THE JAMS, BROTHERS AND SISTERS!" instead of the usual "KICK OUT THE JAMS, MOTHERFUCKERS!". Now, this begs the question - if this was a GIVEAWAY 45 that was never actually released to record stores, and only available at a concert given at the Fillmore East (whose patrons had certainly heard the word "motherfucker" at least ONCE in their lives), then why did the group record this "brothers and sisters" intro at all? Especially if the group was supposed to be sooooooo revolutionary? Even the LABEL COPY says "Preview Pressing For Brothers And Sisters of The MC5". Did the group's "manager" John Sinclair (another drug-addled hippie disguised as "political activist") take the day off at that point?
Here's my theory: the MC5 wanted to get well-known in the NYC area, so they pressed this 45 and gave it away at the concert, hoping someone would bring it to the attention of someone in NYC radio and it would get airplay. Not a bad idea at all, but it didn't work. The music was too far ahead of what was happening in late '68. So when it came time for the LP to be released, the group, dopey John Sinclair, and Elektra decided to include a different recording of "Kick Out The Jams" with the X-rated intro, KNOWING that there would be problems (and LOADS of publicity, however bad). Then, when the pressure got too high, Elektra would splice off the original intro and put the "brothers and sisters" intro back in, and THEN release it as a single. Here's where the fraud comes in: forever afterwards, the group (and Sinclair) would claim that the X-rated intro was spliced off WITHOUT THEIR KNOWLEDGE, and that the "MF" intro was the way they wanted it all along. Oh, really? Like 1969 radio was going to play the word "motherfuckers" on the air?? Like Elektra was gonna sell ANY copies of the LP outside of Detroit with NO radio play?? Like you didn't record the "brothers and sisters" intro 6 months before to get the record on the radio in the FIRST place??? COME ON!
Don't get me wrong - I'm sure that Rob Tyner screamed the "MF" intro at every concert he and the Five ever did, but PLEASE, all you moronic rock critics, don't insult my intelligence by claiming that these guys were some kind of revolutionaries by putting the word on their first LP, because this pre-LP single proves the lie. They were just another group that wanted to get on the radio, and when they couldn't, their mush-brained manager decided to use the tool of every dumb-ass politician wannabe (not to mention every dumb-ass politician) who wasn't smart enough to come up with a new idea - HYPE.
That being said, this is one awesome 45. It is so much better than the released commercial version (Elektra 45648, as opposed to this one, which was denoted Elektra MC5-1, for all you record geeks) because it has even MORE energy, more ferocious vocals from Tyner, it's got a better mix, and it's slightly faster! Fred "Sonic" Smith's guitar riff (and crazed solo) will stick in your head forever, if you have any sense of what great rock and roll is AT ALL. Any MC5 fan can tell me this is one of the greatest rock and roll records ever made, and I'd agree completely. But if that same fan needs to tell me WHY they were so great, I'm walking away.
The MC5 - Kick Out The Jams (Elektra MC5-1) - 1968