MC5 - Live In Saginaw, Michigan- New Years Day- 1970 - Rare Performance From Seminal, Detroit Rock Unit- 14 Song Set- 70 Minutes

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This recording of the MC5 playing for a semi-enthusiastic audience on New Year’s Day, 1970, in Saginaw, MI, finds the MC5 in solid form, playing some fan favorites from Kick Out the Jams along with roughly half of the tunes from the upcoming Back in the USA, and while the sound and approach of the group’s second album have often been criticized by fans as an effort to smooth out the MC5 for wider public consumption, in concert the BITUSA songs hit a lot harder and Wayne Kramer and Fred “Sonic” Smith’s guitars have a lot more room to growl. The band also adds a couple of R&B covers to its set for this show, and Rob Tyner sounds great testifying on “Fire of Love” and “It’s a Man’s World,” giving credence to the legend that John Sinclair used to get the band primed for shows by playing James Brown’s Live at the Apollo en route to gigs. The sound quality on this recording leaves a certain amount to be desired - various elements float in and out of the mix and there’s a significant amount of distortion as the band’s legendary volume pushed the high end into the red - and Get Back doesn’t seem to have done much to improve the audio for this release. Still, the recording quality is a bit better than most of the semi-authorized MC5 discs making the rounds, and it captures a tight, well-focused show from the band in an important transitional period; it’s historically valuable as well as plenty of fun for non-audiophile fans.

-Mark Deming

By Rich Buckland 12/20/2018 06:44 PM

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