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.