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3.88 | 13 ratings | 3 reviews
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Album · 1969

Filed under Proto-Metal
By MC5


1. Ramblin' Rose (2:39)
2. Kick Out the Jams (2:37)
3. Come Together (4:17)
4. Rocket Reducer N°62 (Rama Lama Fa Fa Fa) (5:01)
5. Borderline (2:45)
6. Motor City Is Burning (4:30)
7. I Want You Right Now (6:02)
8. Starship (8:26)

Total Time 39:52


- Wayne Kramer / guitars
- Michael Davis / bass
- Rob Tyner / vocals
- Fred "Sonic" Smith / guitars
- Dennis Thompson / drums

About this release

1969 - Elektra(US)(UK)(Germany)(France) gatefold
1971/1977/1979 - Elecktra(US)(UK)(Germany)(France)(Japan) reissue, gatefold
1982 - Suzy(Eastern Europe)
1989 - Elektra(Canada) CD
1991 - Elektra(US)(Germany) CD
2002 - Sundazed(US) LP: 180 gram, gatefold
2009 - Warner(Japan) SHM-CD: CD iszed album replica, remastered, limited edition

Thanks to Time Signature for the addition and cannon, UMUR for the updates


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Specialists/collaborators reviews

"Kick Out the Jams" is the debut album by US hard rock act MC5. The album was released through Elektra Records in February 1969. A bit out of the ordinary the album is a live album instead of a studio recording like the case is with most debut albums. Elektra Records felt that the band´s energy and wild performance were best captured in a live setting. "Kick Out the Jams" was recorded live on October 30 and 31, 1968, at Detroit's Grande Ballroom. The album sparked some controversy as the word "Motherfucker" is shouted on the album and also appeared on the inner sleeve of the first pressing of the album. That version was soon pulled from stores and two different versions with censored album covers where pressed after that. Even after that the band had trouble with the major department store Hudson´s, which refused to sell the album. In reaction to that MC5 moved in an add which depicted Rob Tyner and the words "Fuck Hudson´s". Although the band have later claimed that Elektra Records was in on the idea, MC5 was subsequently fired from the label to end the conflict. Damage control.

From the above it should be clear that MC5 weren´t the type of band who gave a fuck what others felt about them and that attitude is very much present in the material on "Kick Out the Jams". The band´s far left political ties and anti-establishment lyrics only further enhances the feeling that these guys were rebels and meant business. And that´s to a point where some of the talking between the songs is close to sounding like a political rally. But the politics out of the way "Kick Out the Jams" is ultimately just a filthy, loud, sweaty and distorted hard rock album that went just a bit further than most rock albums released around the same time. In addition to some of the energetic hard rocking tracks like "Ramblin' Rose", "Kick Out the Jams" and "Rocket Reducer N°62 (Rama Lama Fa Fa Fa)", the album also features the heavy blues cover of John Lee Hooker´s "Motor City is Burning" and the closing sonic experiment "Starship". The latter is the only time during "Kick Out the Jams", where I think the album loses it´s breath and becomes a bit tedious. Back in 1968 - 1969 this kind of experiment was probably considered bold and maybe even mindblowing to some people, but noisy sound collages like this one have a tendency to become tiresome after only a few spins. Quite frankly I always skip this one.

The sound production is raw, distorted and so "live" that you can almost feel the presence of the audience and smell the sweat, smoke and beer in the venue. I doubt if there are any overdubs on the album, this really does sound like the "real" thing.

Compared to their contemporaries in The Stooges and their more nihilistic ways, MC5 almost come off as gentle and today their outspoken far left wing views also come off as more humourous than they were originally intented, but "Kick Out the Jams" is still one hell of a raw and filthy hard rock live album. It´s the kind of album that you´ll remember long after it´s over. Despite the tedious nature of "Starship" which takes up about 8 minutes of the playing time, I still think a 4 star (80%) rating is warranted. A true classic this one.
Angry and politicised enough to edge towards punk rock, but with enough classic rock features - they slip in an old school guitar solo here and there, like at the end of Ramblin' Rose - to not quite qualify as founders of the genre (it would be down to the Stooges to do the honours there), the MC5 were still one of the loudest bands you could hope to hear in 1968. The band made the right call in making their first album a live one, because the music is so raw, so vital, and the energy of the crowd is so intense, that it would be impossible to capture quite the same atmosphere in a studio.

And if you want proto-metal, boy you've got it. Come Together, which emerges roaring from the tail end of the title track, reaches almost speed metal velocities, and with its lyrics about revolution and solidarity in the darkness is scary as hell - not in a "Satan is going to eat your soul" way but in a "they're going to riot in the streets and burn the world down" kind of way. In fact, the first five tracks all exude immense power and speed; the albums only slow down for Motor City is Burning, a bit of politicised blues-rock more interesting for the lyrical content than for the somewhat hackneyed musical content. Not that I have anything against the blues, but other artists did the whole blues-rock thing better than these guys. (And it continues into the next song, the uninspired I Want You Right Now.) Things pick up for the energetic Starship, but it has to be said that the album's second side seriously sags in the middle.

Those who don't agree with the MC5's politics might be put out by the lyrical content and the occasional rabble-rousing between songs - but then again, if you're not into rebellion and sticking two fingers up at authority you're hardly likely to be particularly keen on metal. Not a five-star album by a long way - the second side is just plain weaker than the first - but a very creditable three and a half stars.
Time Signature
Kick out the jams, motherfuckers...

Genre: garage rock

MC5 are hugely important in the history of extreme rock. Their style is sometimes described as proto-punk because of its dirty sound, but MC5 are just as important in the history of metal. What they did was to take the hard rock that would eventually develop into metal and take it to the nth degree of extremity - a move which has been incremental in the development of extreme metal genres ever since.

And, although the music is sloppy and noisy on this album, I think that its energy and bluesey groove is more akin to that which is characteristic of hard rock and classic metal, and in addition there are some psychedelic - almost progressive elements on some of the tracks, such as the last track "Starship" as well as "Borderline". While the energy is hard rock and more metal-like the DIY-attitude of punk music pervades the album. Although listed as and treated as a full length release proper, it is in reality a collection of two live concerts, which explains the sloppiness and noise of the album, but it also captures the intensity of the music in a way that a studio recording wouldn't.

This is a classic dirty hard rock release which should be of interest to both punks and metalheads.

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