FIRST IMPRESSIONS Volume 42: The MC5 – Kick Out The Jams

Posted: May 12, 2013 by kingcrimsonprog in First Impressions Articles

FIRST IMPRESSIONS Volume 42: The MC5 - Kick Out The Jams

FIRST IMPRESSIONS Volume 42: The MC5 – Kick Out The Jams

This is the forty-second entry of my blog series ‘First Impressions.’ In each entry of the series I write about discovering an influential or genre-classic album for the first time and then write about that experience in a semi-planned, semi-stream of consciousness manner that is less helpful than a traditional album-review, but which does contain more personal flavour.

I prefer my reviews to be serious and informative. ‘First Impressions’ allow for a more director’s commentary approach. I can be silly and talk bollox, or make points that only a handful of people will understand. Usually I will deliver insights into my history with similar music as well as into how my mind works and how both of these things change over time. You will have to either possess a fairly detailed understanding of Rock and Metal history and Subgenre conventions or have a second tab open at Wikipedia to fully follow every single point that I make, but don’t let that put you off…I’m not honestly expecting you to know every single riff or tone I’ll point out off by heart.

If you want your own First Impressions article done, just suggest it in the comments. I’ll give anything a shot.

This entry will cover Kick Out The Jams; the debut outing from a band that inspired a lot of the Punk movement, and lots of rock and metal bands ever since, The MC5.

I shouldn’t be writing this.

I’m taking a boredom break from a heavy (or should-be heavy) schedule of revision for University exams, to work out my frustrations on some me-time hobbies, in this instance blogging. I’m not due to lift weights again until tomorrow and I don’t want to disrupt any progress just to procrastinate from studying. I’ve got nerdier ways of procrastinating.

So while I should be making absolutely sure that I know the difference between Omentum and Mesentry (Peritoneum that attaches one organ to another vs. Peritoneum that attaches organs to the body wall), the difference between Dendritic Cells and Macrophages (Little octopus looking cells that capture and display antigens to T Cells Vs. Larger phagocytic cells that engulf and kill antigens), between Isometric and Isotonic muscle contractions (muscle tenses without without lengthening or shortening vs. muscle tenses while lengthening or shortening) or what innervates what in the sympathetic or parasympathetic nervous system (short pre-ganglionic neurons synapsing Acetylcholine with nictonic Acetylcholine receptors and long post ganglionic neurons synapsing Noradrenaline with Adrenergic Receptors in the Sympathetic Nervous system with Catabolic physiological consequences Vs.
Long pre-ganglionic neurons synapsing Acetylcholine with with nictonic Acetylcholine receptors and short post-ganglionic neurons synapsing Acetylcholine with Muscarinic Acetylcholine Receptors at parasympathetic neuroeffector junctions with Anabolic physiological consequences…I think?) I’m actually writing out things nobody needs to know on a blog nobody needs to read for the benefit of no one in particular… go figure.

Also…Coming off of listening to the absolutely flawlessly produced Edge Of Thorns album by Savatage, with full grandiose sounds and progressive virtuosic music, it may be a bit of a mistake to chose now to try out another noisy, tinny, protopunk classic (with “another” referring to the Stooges’ Raw Power), especially one that was recorded live.

Seriously, try going straight from listening to November Rain to listening to the Sex Pistols Spunk EP. Or from Accept’s Stalingrad to Mahyem’s De Mysteries Dom Sathanis. That’s what its like. Kinda. A big gap. Like the gap between Soul Of A New Machine and Demanufacture…the universal measure of big gaps. Oh and by the by, if you get a chance, check out Edge Of Thorns, its such a bombastic and enjoyable record.

I also don’t know if I have any room left in my brain for The MC5. You see, and if you are a regular reader you’ll remember as soon as I bring it up, I’ve bought an absolute fuck-tonne of new music recently. 7 Saxon Records, 6 Van Halen records, 6 Thin Lizzy records, 5 ZZ Top records, 4 new Porcupine Tree records, 4 W.A.S.P records, 3 The Stooges records, 2 new Ozzy Osbourne albums, 2 Quiet Riot records, 2 AC/DC records, 2 Children Of Bodom albums, 2 new Anathema albums, 1 new Gallows album, 1 Dream Theater album, 1 Alice Cooper album, 1 Extreme album and the new albums and B-sides from Bring Me The Horizon, Hatebreed, Clutch and Killswitch Engange.

Some of them I haven’t listen to enough, some of these I haven’t listened to through in track order but have heard bits on shuffle, some of these I haven’t listened to AT ALL, and some haven’t even arrived in the post yet.

On top of that I’ve been given a Rammstein bonanza (3CDs, 2 DVDs) as a gift that I ungratefully haven’t even looked at yet.Looking forward to it, but the power of my whims is distracting me from it. Any time I get for listening to it goes to Smodcast or Game Of Thrones, or y’know, helpful stuff like going to Uni and writing essays. …But mostly nerding it out.

And all this time I still haven’t fully absorbed the influx of albums by Savatage (2 Zack-era), Stratovarious (3), Black Label Society (7), Periphery (1), Prong (3), Pulkas (1) and Riverside (2 EPs).

And I’ve really not listened to enough of the Christmas gifts of Gamma Ray’s To The Metal and Led Zeppelin’s Celebration Day. I’ve only just really got into the Porcupine Tree and Anathema albums from Christmas fully, although I’ve been loving them since first listen, but slowly getting more and more acquainted. And, then there’s the 3-5 concert Blu-Rays on top of it. I absolutely abuse them the first week or two, but rarely have time afterwards due to other commitments and the off-putting prospect of turing off-and-on my semi-broken PS3 the aproximatley 45 times required to make it go.

…and I could’ve used more time hanging around that awesome release period of Down IV Purple EP, Parkway Drive Atlas, Kiss Monster, Black Country Communion Afterglow, Coheed & Cambria Afterman etc.

…and I’ve never really given the boxset of all the Faith No More Patton-era albums the time it deserves.

Its too much. Its simply too much music. There isn’t enough time. I’ve under-listened to the new Riverside album, and its flat out amazing. I should’ve heard it 45 times by now.

I should just draw a line under it, and say no more music for a full year, until I’ve absorbed all this. Ok. I may be going a bit far. I haven’t ignored or missed out on everything I’ve listened to. I’ve managed to absorb Grey Britain and Weather Systems, and W.A.S.P’s debut (all three of which are magnificent records, check them out) and I’ve obsessively listened-to-the-fuck-out-of Coheed And Cambria’s Afterman saga, but so much of the rest is just greyed out.

I do over-listen to AC/DC and Quiet Riot on the bus, or ZZ Top on quiet while I’m writing essays, just to fill it all in, just to get my money’s worth so to speak, just to say “just” too much, but its not all going in like it used to when I was a teenager.

[Side note: why is NOT ONE song from Flick Of The Switch or For Those About To Rock as good as the Back In Black material? – I mean ‘Nervous Shakedown’ and ‘Landslide’ are cool, but nothing on either is anywhere near as good as ‘What Do You Do For Money, Honey’ or ‘Have A Drink On Me.’]

So yeah. It’d make sense to just stop all incoming musical traffic until I’ve dealt with this. Except next month there are TWO new QUEENSRYCHE albums coming my way, that I’m going to obsessively repeat listen to, deconstruct, and generally pay too much attention to. So. Um. So much for no new music.

Oh yeah. And the money. This is ruining me. But hey, I work long and hard for it and often I get these for really discounted prices. And I don’t drink or smoke and buy 75% smartprice food, so… its all balancing out so far. As long as I have the work. [- Send donations to: King C. Prog, 55 Life-story Boulevard, First world problems county, USA, FU66692X]

Anyway, the reason I went off on that massive tangent. I just don’t particularly give much of a fuck about the MC5 right now.

I bought the album on reputation and because Monster Magnet and RATM cover ‘Kick Out The Jams’ and because I heard ‘Kick Out The Jams’ on XFM in the kitchen one day when I cooked an awesome dinner and was in a good mood. I only bought the Stooges because Monster Magnet and RATM covered them. Maybe I should stop doing that.

[Side Note: apparently Entombed cover it too, I’ve not heard that, but I’d like to if they did it circa Inferno.]

[Side Note: on an ECG, a P wave signifies the depolarization of the atria, the QRS complex signifies the depolarization of the ventricles and a T wave signifies the re-polarization of the ventricles]

[Play]

The album starts of with a minute-and-a-half or so of crowd-clapping in anticipation of the band, and some revolutionary stage banter kind of reminiscent of Pulse Of The Maggots happens [I wonder if it was influenced by this?]. They start of with ‘Ramblin Rose.’

The music has a bit of life to it. It kind of reminds me of when Elvis’s band get raucous, mixed with the Jimi Hendrix Experience in the earlier days and the song Train Kept A Rollin.
The opening vocals are high pitched and silly sounding, possibly a joke, I’m not sure. The music is kind of energetic and fun. The guitars are musical enough. It’s a fun, rock song. Its not a messy, noisy, arty dirge.

Next up comes the title track. I already know it inside and out. It seems like the band know it less than the previous song. Its very fluffed and messy. The production is actually a little muddier and the guitars are peaking a bit. Still, that doesn’t stop it being a good song. I prefer the RATM version best of all (even with my huge fandom for Monster Magnet).

[Side Note: What does a Golgi-body do again?]

The next song is ‘Come Together.’ It starts off equally loud and noisy and messy. My hopes of a decent fun rock album are crumbling. Luckily its quite exciting and fun. It reminds me a lot of The Mars Volta in a way I’m not quite sure how to explain. It feels like a Jam they only half planned, and that its bigger than the sum of its parts, it feels like at any moment the Jam is going to escape because the musicians can’t keep it chained, it builds up for a minute or so, promising so much, hinting at amazing things to come. “God, its so close now…”
Come on, you big tease. There’s only a minute left to explode and pay off all this build up…

…or just end in a bunch of feedback and cymbal stabs. Y’know, whatever. Either way, either ways good with me.

‘Rocket Reducer No.62 (Rama Lama Fa..)’ starts up next. Its very Hendrixy. Hmm.. its got a lot going for it. It reminds me of the better moments from the Stooges record, and Hendrix, as I already said. It’s a bit too messy and mistake-filled for my tastes (although Punk fans fill your boots) but the basic shape of it is kind of cool. It reminds me a bit of some King Crimson live Jam moments, like ‘Asbury Park’ off of USA, especially on the bass. Its got enthusiasm, but its ultimately unsatisfactory because its just a shell. And the brilliant twin guitar soloing at the end is really ahead of its time and exciting, but thinking it out more and integrating it into the song instead of just as an addendum would’ve been better for me. Not that one of the 500 greatest albums of all time sort of albums needs to please me, its just that the point of this blog is what it sounds like to me on first impressions.

[Glomerular filtration occurs at the “glomerulus” (surrounded by bowman’s capsule) of the “nephron” – the single functional unit of the kidney – and the next parts of a nephron are the proximal convoluted tubule, the loop of henle, the distal convoluted tubule and the collecting ducts ?]

‘Borderline’ kicks off, with a bit of speed and energy. The vocals remind me oddly of John Wetton. It takes a really weird turn. It just sounds like three distinct parts of three different songs, that the band are randomly swithing between when they feel like it. Its got an undeniable appeal though. What it lacks in cohesion, it does make up for in energy. Something I can’t say for the Mountain live album Twin Peaks. Which I compare for, no clear reason. I’ll tell you what I do like about that album though, is the cover of ‘Roll Over Beethoven.’ Which is a wee bit out of character for me if you look at a history of things I’ve disliked.

Anyway. ‘Motor City Is Burning’ follows. Apparently the crowd are the high society. Oh. A different direction. It’s a groovey slow blues number. I didn’t expect that. Especially after the intro. There’s some very competent lead guitar, and on this track, the fuzz and noise actually adds to the song instead of detracting from it. I usually don’t like an album’s Slow Blues Number, but the fact that they play it with groove and fuzz makes it tolerable. At around the 3 minute mark when they start hammering it hard, I actively like it.

[Proton-pump inhibitors, such as Omeprazole, work by irreversibly blocking the proton pump in the parietal cells, which would normally secrete acid ]

‘I Want You Right Now’ starts off by being Hendrix’s version of ‘Wild Thing’ and then slyly pretends to be a song of its own. Its sludgey rock power is a lot more palatable than ‘Come Togther’ and ‘Borderline’ because it is powerful rather than threatening to be, and the slow, teased-out guitar solo has feeling, where the faster ones loose impact for all their mistakes.
When it breaks down into a super soft, silent version, it reminds me of the Band Of Gypsy’s At The Filmore East version of ‘Stone Free’ as well as The Mars Volta. The vocals overlaying eachother are cool and remind me of Gentle Giant in general, as well as specifically, one of my favourite songs, Jetplane Landing’s ‘Effect A Change’ (where vocals build and layer over the top of eachother in a really rhythmically pleasing way).

It kicks out into a jumped-up ‘Wild Thing’ cover again. But its cool. Deep Purple and Led Zeppelin apparently stole loads of their great bits from other bands and adapted it through their own filter, so why can’t MC5?

The closer ‘Starship’ begins. A very promising intro. If this ends up as cool as it seems like it might, the album will have been worth it (£0.99, but you get my point). Oh, this countdown with fast vocals is amazing. I’d absolutely love to hear Monster Magnet or RATM cover that.

Awww boo. It devolved into arty noise and feedback instead of exploding.
Oh. What’s this though. Some very, promising vocals. Ok nope. Its all gone a bit ‘Moonchild’ (King Crimson, not Iron Maiden). Wow. This is proggy as hell. In a bad way. The kind that The Sex Pistols stood against. Funny to hear on a record so often cited as Proto-Punk.

Hmm. This bit has gone on for way too long. This is all the bad things about The Mars Volta. This ‘almost unimaginable to the human mind’ bit is silly, like The Hare Who Lost Its Spectacles, without the Monty Python aware sense of humour.

Goodness me. From the potential of that intro to the dirge of this pretentiousness. Lester Bangs called it pretentious. I’ve always thought Lester Bangs was pretentious (always being since I heard of him after seeing the movie Almost Famous, late LAST YEAR) but maybe he’s on to something.

This sounds like Pink Floyd Ummagumma style instead of Animals style.
Oh my goodness. Did it really just end there? Without reprising that incredible intro. What an anticlimax.

Uggh. That’s left a real sour taste in my brain’s mouth.

I do suspect that a lot of this albums reputation is based around its revolutionary sounding lyrics (e.g. calling the Police “Pigs”) and stage banter, and a self perpetuating cool-status, along with the noise and mistakes giving it the punk-appeal.

I find the album to have some cool moments, a lot of almost good ideas (that don’t get fulfilled unfortunately) and a great energy (that isn’t properly directed or harnessed)

Its an absolute sin that they didn’t keep that intro to ‘Starship’ and use it for another ‘Kick Out The Jams’ shaped hard rock song. It would be the most incredible pre-80s rock moment ever written if it followed the logic my mind had set out for it based on what it seemed to be hinting at. But no. Cool intro and then a pointless six minutes of scrapes, echoes and zwoops. Yeah, zwoops.

Now. Lets think about things.

Do I like the record? …Nope.
Do I feel a sense of relief for having heard it? …Yup.
Would I recommend this album?….Nope.
Do I see why it has its reputation? …Yeah, kinda.
So then why wouldn’t I recommend it? …Ok, jeez. Get off my back.
Will I listen to it again? …probably not often. The first two tracks I’ll keep. And the first two-minutes of ‘Starship.’ The better moments of the rest, I’d keep if I was in the mood.

Stooges, MC5 and Alice Cooper… file under “Mistake.”

Hey. Its only first impressions, maybe I’ll grow to like it.

Or, maybe I’ll listen to the 50 million other albums I bought or got given instead. Y’know. So much good music why waste time on the bad, ey?

Or maybe I’ll get back to revising. Y’know active transport requires ATP to power movement against concentration gradients, right? Cool. Just checkin. Hmmm. Spellcheck wants that to be “Just Chicken.” Just Chicken folks, y’all have a nice evening!

“I have seen you on the edge of dawn
Felt you there before you were born
Balanced your dreams upon the edge of thorns
But I don’t think about you anymoOOOOOOOOOOOOOOre”

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