Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Brother Wayne

I have a confession to make: I was never a big MC5 fan (gasp!). There, I said it. I'm out of the closet. The cat's out of the bag. <insert favorite cliche here>. Yes, of course even as a young rock 'n' roll rookie I had realized that the MC5 were terribly important and respected them, but my respect was distant and impersonal, the same respect I had for Plato or Socrates, for example, never having read a single work of theirs. But the truth is, until my mid-20's the only thing I'd heard by the MC5 was "Kick Out The Jams". The song, not the album.

Sometime during the 90's I finally got around to giving the MC5 a serious listen and I liked them, I really did. But still, there were many other bands heavily influenced by the MC5 that I enjoyed more than the MC5 themselves: The BellRays, the Hellacopters, at least half a dozen Australian groups... I felt the younger ones closer to me, distanced as they were from the whole late 60's/early 70's politically charged albatross around the MC5's collective neck. 

But then I heard Wayne Kramer's 1995 solo album, "The Hard Stuff", and was blown away. I became his fan for life and realized that he is God. Definitely one of the best rock guitarists of all time. Guys, seriously, this shit rocks. On the, ahem, hard stuff the former MC5 guitarist sounds like he's trying to wreck the studio and smash his Strat to smithereens, the slower songs are freakin' awesome and the free-jazzy improvisational stuff kicks ass, hey, even the liner notes (written by Henry Rollins) rule.

1996's "Dangerous Madness" is even better, this gem of an album is a desert island disc for me. It's not just that Wayne has a knack for writing amazing rock songs, or that he's one hell of a guitar player: While nobody would call him a great singer, his voice on this album has a warmth that instantly tells you this guy's the real deal, he's been there, done it, smoked it, fucked it. Plus, his lyrics are up there with the best.

His other solo albums and collaborations are great too, but if you are not already familiar with Wayne Kramer's post-MC5 work then I suggest you start out with these two. After you've listened to each one of them about 200 times (because you'll want to), you can move on to the others. And perhaps to the MC5, if you are ready to admit that you were never really a fan.

1 comment:

  1. MC5's Looking at you, the '68 single version is hellish. And Kramer's Lexington album from '14 is a jazz record that was long overdue