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on 10 May 2011
Dreary attempt by a bunch of hippies to Get Down Wit Da Kids- and making a God awful racket as they do so. Faux revolutionary nonsense, aural gurning from drugged up red diaper babies, tediously over-amplified, steel-mill-wall-of-noise tumult in lieu of actual music. Would only appeal to the type of geeks and nerds who fancy themselves as rebels in the Byronic mode- but are more than happy to get their testosterone by proxy.

Although hardly a princely sum, a fiver spent on this would be a waste.

Spend it on a Charley Pride CD instead.
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on 23 August 2014
Sound quality kills it. I am sorry but this has all of the worst qualities of punk rock. Sloppy untuned guitars- check. Amps turned up way to loud drowning everything into total distortion- check. Don't get me wrong, there is some good playing here and if the recording quality was at least marginal I would rate it maybe 3 or 3.5 stars. It is heavy for 1968, no doubt about it. However, do not let anyone persuade you that this ventures far from punk rock because it does not. If you like punk rock you might like it. It simply did not live up to the glowing reviews and lofty expectation. I am specifically reviewing the sound quality on the new 180g vinyl version. Muddy, washed out wall of distortion...NOT good!
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on 19 January 2017
Kick Out The Jams is certainly a live album with a big reputation, but not, I would argue, a reputation entirely deserved.

Listening to it this morning for the first time in a number of years I was struck by just how bad the drumming is. Whilst the rest of the band lock together almost perfectly throughout, the drummer ("Machine Gun" Thompson) sounds at times like he's struggling to keep up, chasing the band rather than powering them forwards. Often he attempts fills which on the night in question were clearly way beyond his abililty, to the point of verging on being amateur in their execution. With which in mind, it's probably appropriate that on the album's front cover he appears to be recoiling in pain as he accidentally rams a drumstick up his nose.

As for the music itself, the album has two-and-a-half truly worthwhile moments; the title track (a bona fide classic), Rocket Reducer No 62 (of a similar style to the title track) and Rambling Rose. The latter is a curious thing. It rocks hard with the energy of the previous two tracks, but is completely ruined by guitarist Wayne Kramer's jokey falsetto vocal, a concept made even more stupendous when one considers the militant "revolutionary" rhetoric with which the song is introduced.

The remainder of the album is a largely unimaginative, one-dimensional affair, and shamelessly derivative. Come Together consists of nothing more than the opening riff of The Who's "I Can See For Miles" repeated ad nauseum. I Want You Right now does exactly the same with The Troggs "Wild Thing" (slowed down in the same manner as Hendrix's live version). There's no attempt in either of these tracks to use the borrowed riff as a lift-off point or suchlike, it's just taken as the basis for the entire song. The vocal lines lodge themselves firmly into a bland rut throughout, and that's saying something when one considers frontman Rob Tyner's range was by default hardly elastic.

Borderline is quite frankly a mess. It has a couple of odd time changes which leave the drummer flailing almost randomly, and with this track even the rest of the band sound like they're struggling to hold it together. Motor City Is Burning is a Blues cover which in the hands of the MC5 becomes nothing more than an instantly forgettable cliche, white-boy bar-band Blues by numbers.

The main flaw with this album is that a large portion of the music quite simply goes nowhere. It does have its explosive moments, but these fail to be sustained across the album as a whole. Too much of its content is rather turgid and bloated in the worst kind of self-indulgent way. It tends to plod along at ground-level rather than rocket up to stratospheric heights.

Ultimately, Kick Out The Jams manages to take itself far too seriously whilst lacking the requisite creativity and originality to warrant being taken as seriously as it clearly desires. Loud guitars and political rants about sticking it to "the man" are not enough alone to make an album truly revolutionary outside of its original timeframe.

And to be equally blunt, Kick Out The Jams fails to live up to its reputation when compared against not only the very best of its contemporaries, but the very best of everything which subsequently emerged from the world of live Rock recordings. A list could easily be drawn up of live albums released or recorded between 1968 and 1971 which performance-wise, creatively and sonically stand head and shoulders above Kick Out The Jams.

So, I give it 2 stars out of 5.
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on 21 January 2008
So this is supposed to be the first punk record. I don't want to deny its influence or its legacy, but let me start by saying that I'm not really feeling it. I just don't think the quality of song writing is there. The grooves are clumsy, even while the band is tight and the whole thing reminds me of seeing an unsigned band - one that's been heavily influenced by Oasis.

There's plenty of attitude, and the recording captures that very well. You get a real sense of revolution being in the air, and a real gang mentality emanating from the band. Unfortunately the recording lacks clarity. The guitars are too loud, while the bass and drums are almost completely buried. The fact that this was recorded in 1968 is no excuse - just listen to Jefferson Airplane's "Bless It's Pointed Little Head". Now that is a quality live recording.

Having mentioned Jefferson Airplane, I'm a little confused as to where the MC5 got their "first of their kind" status from. - some of these tracks remind me of songs from the Airplane's 1967 album "Surrealistic Pillow" like "Somebody to Love" and "3/5 Of A Mile in 10 Seconds". There's even a spacey jam at the end of the album that I thought was the highlight until it outstayed its welcome. It makes me wonder whether punks found it more credible to trace their lineage to short-lived revolutionaries rather than to West Coast hippies. Sure, the Airplane are a little more intricate, but the MC5 are showing no shortage of musical ability - there are one or two excellent moments, like the dual guitar solo at the end of "Rocket Reducer"- but these few ideas are brief and don't carry over into entire songs.

I can't say any of the album is particularly bad, it's just that I'm very disappointed. It doesn't live up to my expectations, and I'm certainly feeling the Stooges more. Really I think it's one where you had to be there.
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on 19 July 2012
Lester Bangs wrote a short, caustic review of the MC5's debut album for the US rock magazine Rolling Stone, when it was originally released in 1969. He damned it with three adjectives. What were they? He said it was: ridiculous, overbearing, and pretentious. I think that the legendary rock journalist was overstating his case (as was his wont). This live album - recorded at Detroit's Grande Ballroom in 1968 - doesn't quite live up to the hype attached to it by its most fervent acolytes; but it is a highly enjoyable, energetic mix of heavy-guitar rock and rebellious gestures. Songs like the drone rock of the gloriously named 'Rocket Reducer No.62 (Rama Lama Fa Fa Fa)', and the hard-rocking 'Ramblin' Rose', reminded me of the powerful performance of The Who on their highly-regarded Live At Leeds. However, I cannot quite fathom the highfalutin comparisons made by some, between the twin guitar attack of Wayne Kramer and Fred 'Sonic' Smith which is featured here, and the improvisational saxophone playing of jazz artists John Coltrane and Pharaoh Saunders. But I do think there is a certain charm in their slightly ramshackle set-list. For instance, their semi-improvised closer 'Starship', which is their tribute to the free-jazz artist Sun Ra, is an ambitious, stop-start performance featuring overlapping vocals, guitars and drums running in an out of synchrony with one another,before eventually disappearing 8 minutes and 26 seconds after it began in waves of feedback, thunderous drum rolls, and spontaneous crowd applause. Many of the 8 songs featured here reflect the band's libertarian ethos of dope, guns, and sex in the street. Unfortunately, the passage of time has robbed pushy, powerful songs, like the title track, and the politicized 'Motor City Is Burning', of some of their potency. They sound less like a call to arms, more like historical documents. Rob Tyner, the band's lead singer, admitted as much in his occasionally interesting liner notes to the 1991 reissue. He suggests: "If your eyes are scanning these words right now, you must have a spark of interest for a time long vanished. The cultural circumstances surrounding the creation of this music will never again occur". That may well be true, but "the sound that abounds and resounds and rebounds off the ceiling" ('Kick Out The Jams'), still remains well worth listening to.
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on 27 March 2001
First released in 1969 this album was years ahead of its time. From the blistering opening track Ramblin Rose to the esquisite Kick Out the Jams this album is a must for anyone with the slightest interest in 'Rock' music. Powerful, raw and rockin are just a few words which sum up a master piece of an album.
Don't buy anything else until this is in your collection. You won't be disppointed as the intensity of the music puts the 'new wave' gendre in the shade. Yes its raw but that's the beauty of the LP. It has n't been over produced and must rate as one of the best Live LP's of all time!!
Angus F
PS Play it Loud!!!
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on 15 September 2000
I remember when this album was first released. It was totally different from the boring mainstream of pop then and today this is still the case. Classic 3/4 guitar heavy rock & roll. This is probably their best release and the best versions of the songs on the album. Later live albums are of very patchy audio quality.This is how they sounded (on a good day!) live on stage.
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on 15 January 2011
If there would be an award for an high energy Rock assault - this CD is the favourite for rank 1. Besides the first two Stooges records Kick Out The Jams defines the whole initial spectrum of Punk, Garage Rock, Psychedelic Rock and Hard Rock. This is a 40 minutes Rock & Roll explosion which defined already the end of Rock music because no other band was able during the following 40 years to top that level of anarchy, noise, raw power and spontaneity. Next to Hawkwind's Space Ritual this CD is for me the best live Rock recording of all time. The magic of that era won't come back and bands of today simply can't reproduce this kind of music. It is a lost art. The funny thing is that after more than 40 years Kick Out The Jams sounds amazingly fresh and modern. Starship is my favourite track - a weird piece of Psychedelic Punk Rock - still impressive with its ecstatic raw power, nuclear energy and mind-floating calm sections. If Heavy Rock is for you - this record is a must to buy and needs to be played as loud as you can manage it. I still have only the vinyl so I can't say anything about the sound quality of this CD. But the vinyl is great. Aggressive but clear. Loud but differentiated. Distorted by not painful. Noisy but music. An amazing wall of sound.
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on 22 March 2014
I had only a vague memory of listening to a poor cassette recording of a very scratched MC5 LP over 35 years ago, and didn't expect much from this album. How wrong I was!

This recording stands head and shoulders above most modern pop-punk/garage rock-type bands' live sets, and many studio performances; it has freshness, energy and ability that would put many of today's bands to shame - and you can still understand every word.

Some of the best music to have ever come from Detroit.

Many spiked-haired, tattooed, pierced, long shorts-wearing bands of today could learn a thing or two.
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on 6 December 2014
Imagine a place and time where and when young people really believed, sincerely believed, for all the odium that's been heaped on them since, particularly by the Punk generation, who were equally ineffectual, historically speaking, that they not only could but we're going to change the world for the better. Imagine that and then look at the mess we're in now. This dirty world, this world beyond dirt, beyond any but the hollowest of hopes. Good grief.
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