Perfect Sound Forever

MC5- Live at the Grande

photo by Leni Sinclair

Experienced by Eric Rairigh
(November 1998)

The Year: Oct. 30-31 1968
The Place: Detroit, MI
The Venue: Russ Gibb's Grande Ballroom
The Bands: The Psychedelic Stooges and The MC5

The MC5 line-up:
Rob Tyner (lead singer)
Wayne Kramer (Fender guitar)
Fred 'Sonic' Smith (Mosrite guitar)
Michael Davis (Fender bass)
Dennis Thompson (drums)

With memories upon memories etched in my mind and heart, of rock and roll the way it's supposed to be. Speaking of memories, let them be good, kind to all and not soon to bore.

Upstairs. One of the truly great places to hear and see the EARLY greats of rock and roll. Describing this 1930's ballroom is easy. Entering at street level then escorted upstairs that as climbed you could hear records blaring or if lucky, the opening act. There were about 30 steps. Led Zeppelin's song "Stairway To Heaven" reminds me of that walk.

Once at the top you could see the stage about 250 to 300 ft. away, not a chair in sight. Did we like to dance or what! Around the perimeter, we would troll, lookin' for our cocktail of choice for the night. Usually this concoction had a type of acid that at the time we had no idea what it was. Ha! Ha! No death drugs here. No ma'am!!

The screen behind the stage was always in light show mode. You know- the '60's psychedelic light, no lasers here! On the ceiling, right snack in the middle of the place hung a huge mirrored ball circa the '30's or '40's.

After finding friends and discussing the merits/demerits of each other's choice of cocktail for the evening, whoever was talkin' automatically stopped in mid sentence by that thump, thump, thump of live music. Looking at each other, we smiled. Yeah.

Iggy and The Psychedelic Stooges, The Grande. A good time? You bet! The Line-up: Ron Ashton (guitar), Dave Alexander (bass) and Scott Ashton (drums)

Iggy, at that point in his life was considered something of a joke. But as years went by, who knew we were listening to Punk #1. He was drinking cheap wine, breakin' the bottles on the mike stand, then rolling in the glass making it his own weapon of destruction on himself. Crazy man he was. Crazy man he still is. The Sex Pistols stole it all from the main punk himself, James Osterberg.

Iggy and The Stooges finished their set and it was on to the main event of this 1968 Zenta New Year.

Before proceeding, let me give a mention to Russ Gibb. This man, believe it or not, used to teach me English at Allen Park North Junior High. Good old Russ. No one would have ever expected this from him.

After waiting what seemed like an eternity, considering by this time my cocktail had kicked in (if you know what I mean) things were ready. I had seen enough concerts to know once the stage is clear, little red lights on the amps glow letting you know- Let's GO!

Well, after a minute or two of clapping Brother J. C. Crawford hits the stage.

'Brothers and Sisters
I wanna see a sea of hands out there.
Let me see a sea of hands.
I want everybody to kick up some noise.
I wanna hear some revolution out there, brothers
I wanna hear a little revolution.
Brothers and sisters, the time has come
For each and every one of you to decide
Whether you are gonna be the problem,
Or whether you are gonna be the solution.
You must choose, brothers, you must choose.
It takes 5 seconds, 5 seconds of decision.
Five seconds to realize that it's time to move.
It's time to get down with it.
Brothers, it's time to testify and I want to know,
Are you ready to testify?
Are you ready?

Rob Tyner yells out. 'Brother Kramer, Brother Wayne Kramer' and we were going to where, I don't know and didn't care. Brother Waynes' falsetto on "Ramblin' Rose" still sends chills up and down my spine. The 5 opened a lot of shows with this cut. Sort of a warm-up for a full guttural assault.

It's time to, it's time to, KICK OUT THE JAMS, MOTHERFUCKERS! It was right then the cocktails really KICKED in. By this time we were smokin' and so were The 5.

That vibe goin' down WILD people were kickin' it out. The 5 kicked ass and that's a fact. My 'cocktails' had hit high times- hell, where's my doctor? Beam me up, Scotty! Oh well. Still here. 5 still playin'. Guess I'm alive. Yea, alive with energy!!

RAMBLIN' ROSE: Brother Wayne's falsetto at it's best while pattin' his crotch as he sings 'The more you feel it the more it grows'

KICK OUT THE JAMS: The original with no censors involved. Great tune, what more can be said for the anthem of the White Panthers, Detroit rockers and any other revolutionaries out there.

COME TOGETHER: The MC5 with John Sinclair as manager had a way of putting songs together that if indulging in 'cocktails' of any sort would bring you right along with them.

ROCKET REDUCER #62 (RAMA LAMA FA FA FA): Always my favorite '5' song. Maybe it's because Brother Wayne starts it out or the gun sounds at the beginning but that night I thought it WAS a gun. Whoever knows what "Rama Lama Fa Fa Fa" means, please let us know. I think it's something said during intense intercourse.

BORDERLINE: Great guitar assault and when I say assault, I mean assault. Always been a favorite of mine, especially when they change beats.

MOTOR CITY IS BURNING: One of the best blues songs ever. If you remember the riots in Detroit this song brings back memories of the craziness, total assault and sometimes brash actions of our peace lovin' brothers and sisters who could get a little out of hand.

I WANT YOU RIGHT NOW: Perfect song placement. This number would drive me crazy with all that hipster there. Boy, I was lucky to keep 'it' down.

STARSHIP: After "I Want You Right Now", this one would send me into another dimension. Great Sun Ra licks. I usually didn't know if I was comin' or goin'.

This song ends and you don't really think it did. Oh, well, silence again. God but with a band as loud as THE FIVE, my ears rang for days. Silence. Silence. Oh no, time to leave and cocktails still kickin'. Our group made it through the concert. Now to drive home (in my pot-mobile, no less). One of our group got lost, broke into a house and out of that became a JEHOVAH'S WITNESS!

The pot-mobile. A 1965 = Mustang Fastback. Spray painted all colors with a portrait of The Beatles painted on the hood. Cool, yea. Too obvious, you better believe it!

Well, back to Ypsilanti, listening to our double headphoned 8-track player we came together and made it home somehow. Home in Ypsi. Time to sleep, sure, thank God I had my girlfriend with me but that's another story. Heh! Heh!

Also see: Eric's poem about the 5

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