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 Stooges vs. MC5 live

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slow extinction




Number of posts : 21
Registration date : 2022-07-07

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PostSubject: Stooges vs. MC5 live   Stooges vs. MC5 live Icon_minitimeFri Jul 21, 2023 12:02 am

Part 1 - Soundboard Recordings

The MC5 have an obvious head start in this realm as their 1st album was recorded live (only minor vocal overdubs were done). But their secret weapon was an audiophile fan/supporter named Emil Bacilla who would occasionally record shows for them. I don't know for a fact but I suspect semi-professional recordings such as Sturgis Armory 1968 and Saginaw Michigan 1970 were the fruits of his labor.

With their career badly flagging in the States the MC5 headed overseas to Europe in 1972 where they received a warm welcome owing to the Europeans endless fascination with their radical political views and involvement in the 1968 Democratic National Convention riot (which was actually quite minor). Invitations to appear live on music television soon followed - two of which - in France and Germany netted the band two 6 song live performances on tape - not all of which aired  but whose tape was preserved. In contrast the Stooges only known live performance on television was at the Midsummer Rock special on ABC in Cincinnati June 1970. The entire performance was likely filmed but it is highly doubtful that the unaired portion survives.

The closest the Stooges had to Emil Bacilla was superfan Michael Tipton. What he lacked in technical skills he made up for in devotion.
It was agreed upon that he would record the band at their two Michigan Palace shows in Oct./73 and Feb./74 with the band members each receiving a copy in return . As such his recorder was duly connected to the soundboard by Stooges sound man nite bob. Stooge fans though were so hungry for a true professional live recording that they basically invented one - the bands performance at the Academy Of Music 12/31/73 NYC. The consensus today is that it doesn't exist - it never did (only an audience recording does). Eventually though a true professional live recording of the band in Atlanta Oct./73 was released on the Raw Power box set. And a few years ago the unthinkable happened - a soundboard recording from the Funhouse tour came out. Likely the last of the lot but you never know.

ADVANTAGE: MC5


Last edited by slow extinction on Fri Jul 21, 2023 6:16 am; edited 1 time in total

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slow extinction




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PostSubject: Re: Stooges vs. MC5 live   Stooges vs. MC5 live Icon_minitimeFri Jul 21, 2023 3:42 am

Part 2 - Audience Recordings

With the Stooges live career extending into 1974 while the MC5s ended in 1972 it gave the Stooges a decided advantage - more fans had tape recorders over that time frame as the cassette format exploded in popularity. This would explain the much greater number of audience recordings from the Raw Power tour as opposed to the High Times tour, rather than being a reflection of fan devotion. In addition Danny Fields recorded 4 Stooges shows himself while I'm not aware of him having recorded any MC5 shows.

Both bands seem to have exactly one terrible quality audience recording apiece. For the MC5 it is Chicago Soldier Field 1970 while for the Stooges it is the American Theatre  St.Louis 1973. There is little hope for a better quality MC5 recording emerging but since the circulating Stooges recording sounds like it is around 8th generation it is definitely possible that an earlier generation tape could surface.

The Stooges are quite willing to release audience recordings commercially while there seems to be reticence on the part of the MC5. There is some decent quality MC5 live recordings from '69 and '71 but they are only available on hard to find bootlegs. With the advent of artificial intelligence I imagine that it will soon be possible to take a good quality audience recording and basically transform it into an excellent soundboard type recording, remixed and all. The possibilities are enticing.

ADVANTAGE: Stooges

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PostSubject: Re: Stooges vs. MC5 live   Stooges vs. MC5 live Icon_minitimeWed Aug 23, 2023 11:44 pm

Part 3 - Performance

Wayne Kramer writes in his memoir that the MC5 were an inconsistent live band, either great or awful, mostly due to the substance abuse issues of some of their members (including himself). Johnny Thunders , who saw the MC5 live many times in his youth, had observed the same hit and miss nature of the group in live performance. If so than the band got incredibly lucky as a bad performance was never captured on tape. That said I think the MC5 were at their best when they stuck to basic hard rock and didn't indulge in the free form stuff. I much prefer the short and sweet versions of "Starship" and "Black To Comm" at Saginaw 1970 as opposed to some of the elongated versions they did. Mercifully the band spared us from drum solos.

Two of the Stooges supposed worst performances WERE captured on tape where the bands performance was negatively impacted by a band member being badly impaired by drugs ( Dave - Gooselake '70) or by both drugs and alcohol ( Iggy - Academy Of Music NYC '73). It was testament to the bands composure and ability that they still managed a credible performance, both deemed worthy of official release. Completely separate from the problems performing they created for themselves, the band was often faced with hostile crowds in Michigan during the Raw Power tour, culminating in the chaotic final show at the Michigan Palace where they faced a barrage of projectiles, including glass bottles aimed at their heads. As evidenced by Michael Tipton's live recording the band managed to perform remarkably well under such battlefield conditions, when most acts would have long fled the stage.

Fortunately mostly strong performances abound on the Stooges live tapes, some of which dispel long running fallacies regarding the group. Chief among these were that the 1971 incarnation of the band were just a bunch of junkies gigging only to secure enough money to get their next fix and where the music took a backseat to their habit. But the You Want My Action box set from EA shows that the new material was strong, the performances excellent and that the band was arguably as good as ever. Similarly on the Raw Power tour when the old addictions had returned the band was still capable of consistently great performances as evidenced by their
legendary stand at the Whisky A Go Go documented on the Theatre Of Cruelty box set. Prior to the release of that box set I think I would have given the edge to the MC5 but I've since changed my mind.

ADVANTAGE: None. A tie.

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slow extinction




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PostSubject: Re: Stooges vs. MC5 live   Stooges vs. MC5 live Icon_minitimeWed Sep 20, 2023 10:09 pm

Part 4 - Synopsis

MC5 live tapes span the gamut from their early days in 1966 through to their final dissolution in 1972, giving a satisfying, comprehensive live career overview. In contrast, with the Stooges there are no known live recordings from their late 1960's period, equating to a gaping black hole. Per Nilsen's recent book on the Stooges: On Stage 1967 -1974  sheds a lot of light on this period but there is no substitute for an actual recording. All we can take solace in is knowing that their best musical ideas from this period were incorporated into the debut and the extended versions of the songs that eventually got released.

From 1970 onwards though the Stooges live career is well documented on tape and includes some historically significant shows, including the final performance from the original lineup as well as the final performance overall (pre-reunion of course). But the salient feature of the Stooges live tapes is the wealth of previously unreleased songs contained therein. High quality, original songs that were never recorded in a studio and that would have been lost forever had they not been captured live. The MC5 also have a fair number of unreleased live songs on tape but they are mostly covers, albeit well done ones.

The Stooges live well keeps flowing as evidenced by the recent impressive releases Live At Gooselake and Theatre Of Cruelty. The MC5's though has apparently dried up as the last release Part Of The Problem/ Part Of The Solution, a limited edition vinyl only release, was over ten years ago. There is the strange case of Kick Out The Jams. Two complete shows were recorded for the album yet only a few outtakes have ever been released. Either the rest was lost like the MC5's 2nd album studio demos for Elektra were, or the remainder was deemed inadequate. Which would be surprising since I think Kick Out The Jams was one of the best live albums ever.

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