The Dirty Dozen with Mick Collins: Part 4

Here's another slice of Detroit goodness from our man on the ground. This time, it's from seminal garage rockers MC5.

"Contrary to popular mythology, Detroiters are not raised on a steady diet of the MC5 (no thanks to the NME for that). I, for one, didn't hear the MC5 until I was a teenager.

I was laying in bed, blatantly disregarding parental orders by having the radio on after curfew. I was listening to the Jere Stormer Show, a late-night smorgasbord of non-standard rock, when suddenly the most ripping rock sounds I'd ever heard started clawing their way out of my speaker. I sat up in my bed, thinking 'What the fuck is THAT???' I'd been listening to punk rock since 1980, and I'd NEVER heard something as outre' as THIS. While most punk bands sounded as if they were playing chainsaws, this bunch sounded like they were playing JET ENGINES. Also, the lead singer was actually SINGING, which stuck out amongst all of the adenoidal yelling in punk rock. Right after the first verse, with no chorus or anything, the lead guitar took off for the stratosphere, and never seemed to find his way back before the whole thing crashed against the speakers with a huge "Ker-WHUNNNGK!!!!" that seemed to blast all the air out of the room, fading out with the apparent sounds of wreckage tinkling across the studio floor.

When the song ended, I snuck out and called the radio station. When Jere answered the phone, I started babbling. "That record you just played! Who -- what in the -- who the -- Who WAS that???"

There was a slight pause on the other end while Jere grinned like the Cheshire Cat (I could practically hear him doing it over the phone). "Kid" he finally said, 'That was the MC5."

"No way!" I protested. "The MC5 play that noodly Classical shit!" Like all properly-raised children of my era, I had been under the impression that all bands labeled 'Late-60s' and 'heavy' played that noodly Classical shit (BKA Prog Rock). While I was wrong on at least two counts, I here note without a trace of irony that Detroit's own contribution to the original Prog scene, Symphonic Metamorphosis, was made up of sitting members of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra.

Anyway, Jere schooled me proper that night, and we have enjoyed some good laughs over it in the intervening years.

The MC5 *destroyed* my faith in punk rock that night. NONE of those bands sounded like that, not even the ones I *liked*, like Stiff Little Fingers. It didn't matter what they were singing *about*; they SOUNDED like sonic revolution. I never heard punk rock the same way, after that. The first time I heard The Exploited, I said 'Tch. Poseurs...'"

MP3 MC5 - Looking at You

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