When the Motor City 5 stormed the stage, the band combined the kinetic flash of James Brown on acid with the raw musical dynamics of the Who gone berserk. It's a unique band that can land itself on the cover of Rolling Stone a month before the release of its debut album and then be booted from its record contract just a few months later. Rock had never before seen the likes of the MC5 and never will again.
Many of us who were floored by the 5 in concert were convinced that this was the most transcendently pulverizing rock we would ever experience, while many more who heard or read about the band dismissed the 5 as a caricature, a fraud, White Panther bozos play-acting at revolution. There was always plenty of humor to the 5—visionary knuckleheads—though the question was whether they were in on the joke. Frequently ridiculed during their short career, they've since been hailed as a primal influence on everything from punk to metal to Rage Against the Machine to the Detroit populist resurgence of the White Stripes, Kid Rock and Eminem.