Remembering Michael Davis of the MC5: Ten Great MC5 Tunes!
Michael Davis, the bassist for Detroit's seminal late-60s rock band, died of liver failure at the age of 68. He later co-founded the non-profit Music Is Revolution Foundation, dedicated to supporting music education programs in public schools and to indoctrinating kids into becoming huge MC5 fans. Considering how widely ignored the MC5 have been among mainstream channels that doesn't sound like such a bad idea.
To pay tribute to Davis and his legendary band, List of the Day brings you these fine ten MC5 tracks that serve as a deserving introduction to one of rock 'n' roll's most revolutionary bands. ("American Ruse," in case you were wondering, came in at #11, according to the highly complex algorithm used to compute this list.)
10) I Can Only Give You Everything: This garage rock classic, which had been a single for Van Morrison and Them and the MC5 in 1966, was a great mouth-watering debut that only hints at where the band would take things from here. Already louder than the competition, the MC5 would dirty the waters in a serious way. The AMA would not approve.
9) Ramblin' Rose: Wayne Kramer's falsetto vocal is pure hilarity and inspiration. That the MC5's debut album, Kick Out the Jams, would be a live album without sweetening is a statement of its own. Being recorded on Devil's Night and Halloween at Detroit's Grande Ballroom makes the mythology behind the album ever more spine-tingling.
8) Looking At You: Their second album, Back In the U.S.A., cleaned up their sound quite a bit. Recorded in an actual recording studio with a producer who had a vision for them, it's so compact and poppy that one can hear where the Ramones got a bit of their inspiration. At just three minutes, "Looking At You" manages a great guitar solo and aggressive rhythmic interplay between the bass and drums, despite a disappointing trebly mix. Go Michael!
7) Motor City Is Burning: Kick Out the Jams sounds like a band starting a riot. Take this blues that builds to pure catharsis. Just as a young guitarist finds the keys to the universe when stomping on a fuzzbox, one hears rock 'n' roll getting an overhaul into the second half of the 20th Century with this one. Don't look back -- because you can't.
6) Future / Now: The first three minutes or so of this tune are pure muscle. The second half sounds like somebody tripped over the electric cord and left the band to space out in the dark. I haven't been this confused about a work of art since I got to the 'Peace' part of War and Peace.