It is Halloween in Detroit circa 1968. Onstage are the most dangerous collection of outlaws in music – two months ago they provided the soundtrack to the riots at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago. They personify the violence of the days of rage, and they scare the hell out of your parents. They are the MC5.

Kick Out the Jams, recorded in front of a raucous D-Town audience, is the least elegant album in the history of rock and roll. The noise screeching out of the Grande Ballroom sounds like your own personal 11-car collision on Woodward Avenue, a series of dissonant guitars followed by shrieking vocals complemented by apocalyptic drum strokes mixed in with thunderous bass lines and followed by, you guessed it, dissonant guitars. At the album’s apogee, “Come Together,” the snarls of Rob Tyner are matched by the hissing guitars that hurtle forward incessantly.

During “Motor City is Burning,” a track that sounds more like a manual for intrepid revolutionaries than rock and roll, the MC5 relate the tale of Detroit’s 1967 riots by chanting, “I’d just like to strike a match for freedom myself.” “Rocket Reducer No. 62 (Rama Lama Fa Fa Fa)” is an unstable agglomeration of fire and brimstone percussion and destabilizing distortion that perfectly captures the uncertainty of the late ’60s.

It is an exhausting, debilitating listen.

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