Michael Davis - bass; Wayne Kramer - guitar, vocals; Dennis Thompson - drums; Lisa Cocolla - vocals; Nicke Royale Andersson - guitar; Johnny Walker - vocals; Mark Arm - vocals
Taped during the band's 2004 European tour, this show celebrates the legacy and artistry of one of America's most controversial political bands: The MC5. Though only three of the original five members remain (Wayne Kramer, Mike Davis, and Dennis Thompson), the band is supplemented with guest guitarists and vocalists. All in all, the evening was as close as any will ever get to a real MC5 show.
Opening with the highly energetic, "Rambling Rose" (sung in falsetto by Wayne Kramer), the band goes through most of the classic material that made up the first two LPs of the group, Kick Out The Jams and Back In The USA. Included here are revamped versions of "I Can Only Give You Everything" (the band's first recording originally done in 1966), "Tonight," and the hard rockin', "Sister Anne."
The second half of the show solidifies with bombastic versions of "Come Together" (not the same song as the Beatles' hit and one that owes a lot to "I Can See For Miles" by the Who), "Motor City's Burning" (their most politically charged track)," and "Human Being Lawn Mower," among the most ominous of their songs. The finale of the show is a four-song power-play, of which "Kick Out The Jams," is by far the apex. Other highlights include "Let Me Try" and "Call Me Animal."
Just one listen to this show and you will see why the MC5 were so influential. Many hard rock groups, including Aerosmith and Stone Temple Pilots, were greatly influenced by the band, and STP actually wrote and recorded a song about the MC5.
DKT is what is left from the original politically-charged, hard rock group the MC5 after they reunited in 2003. The band name comes from the first letter of the three remaining members' last names—Davis, Kramer, and Thompson. Two of the key members of the band, guitarist Fred "Sonic" Smith and singer Rob Tyner, had already passed away, and the group used a myriad of contemporary artist fans to fill in on lead vocals and guitar when they did the filmed reunion at the Club 100 in London in 2003. Among them:
Nicke Andersson of The Hellacopters (filing in for Fred "Sonic" Smith), and a collection of singers—Evan Dando of The Lemonheads, David Vanian of the Damned, Kate O'Brien, Lemmy of Motörhead, and Ian Astbury of the Cult, all handling Tyner's vocal parts.
When the group decided to resume a steady diet of touring in 2004, they settled on a lineup that included Andersson on guitar and Johnny Walker on vocals. He was replaced in 2005 by Handsome Dick Manitoba (former vocalists for the Dictators). Female vocalist Lisa Cocolla also joins them on several songs including the kickin' blues track, "Motor City's Burning," and the hard rockin' classics, "Looking At You" and "Shakin' Street."
The MC5 began in the mid-'60s as an outgrowth of garage bands that included Fred Sonic Smith and Wayne Kramer (two high school guitarist pals). By the time they had become the MC5, they had added bassist Michael Davis and drummer Dennis Thompson. Last to join was a charismatic vocalist named Robert Derminer. Having been a key member of Detroit's left-wing arts community, Derminer determined he needed to be in a rock 'n' roll band if he wanted to get his ideas across to the public. He changed his image and changed his name to Rob Tyner (named after jazz pianist McCoy Tyner). The group was named the Motor City 5, which soon became the MC5.
MC5 aligned itself with a radical rock manager named John Sinclair, who formed a political activist group called the White Panthers. He was also a major anti-Vietnam War activist, and the first rock industry insider to openly campaign for the legalization of marijuana. They also made headlines by performing a free concert for protestors at the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago. They toured with Big Brother & The Holding Company (with Janis Joplin), and Cream, among others.
The band soon built a following as one of the hottest live acts in Detroit. In 1968, they signed on as the first hard rock group on Elektra Records, and released the now legendary Kick Out The Jams album (since their live show was so acclaimed, the label decided to have the band's debut record captured on stage rather than in a studio). The record, released in January 1969, was highly political and contained numerous obscenities. When it was banned by a number of retail outlets, Elektra dropped the band.
They were picked up Atlantic Records in 1971, but by then they had fallen out with radical manager John Sinclair and toned down their political slant. They became more of a straight-ahead rock band, with rough edges that clearly inspired the Ramones and the Sex Pistols. Despite rave reviews, Atlantic failed to get the MC5 on American radio stations and dropped them after their third LP. By then, the band was heavily into drugs, and soon fell apart.
Some of the members went to jail on drug charges, some took normal day jobs, and Fred Smith went solo and married rock singer Patti Smith. Singer Rob Tyner became a record producer. After the untimely deaths of Smith and Tyner, interest in the band was renewed. The 2003 reunion in London proved to the remaining members that there was still a sizable audience for the music of this historic rock band.