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Live 1969/70

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Album Review

This 11-track live compilation, assembled from various venues including German television ("Kick Out the Jams") and Detroit's Grande Ballroom in 1969 and New York City in 1970, offers slightly better sound than has been heard on some of the other MC5 archival material that started surfacing in the 1990s. But that's not to say that it plays in any way like an official release — Rob Tyner's vocals have a problem competing with the guitars of Fred "Sonic" Smith and Wayne Kramer, but somewhere in the lo- to medium-fidelity mix everything is audible if not exactly crisp or balanced. The repertoire is the main attraction here, however, mixing MC5 classics like "I Want You Right Now," "Ramblin' Rose," and "Teenage Lust" with the group's renditions of rock & roll and R&B standards such as "Born Under a Bad Sign" and "Shakin' All Over" — they're the highlight of the disc, and the performances fairly ooze a level of raw energy and power that's still spellbinding, even as documents that are nearly four decades old. There's no annotation but there's also none needed — some music just carries its own explanation and raison d'être in the listening.


Formed: 1964 in Detroit, MI

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '00s, '10s

Alongside their Detroit-area brethren the Stooges, MC5 essentially laid the foundations for the emergence of punk; deafeningly loud and uncompromisingly intense, the group's politics were ultimately as crucial as their music, their revolutionary sloganeering and anti-establishment outrage crystallizing the counterculture movement at its most volatile and threatening. Under the guidance of svengali John Sinclair (the infamous founder of the radical White Panther Party), MC5 celebrated the holy trinity...
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