MC5 To Release First New Album In 53 Years, 'Heavy Lifting'

June 6, 2024

Emerging from the gritty streets of Detroit in the mid-1960s, MC5 revolutionized rock and roll with their blistering fusion of garage rock, blues, soul, free jazz, and proto-punk. Infamous for incendiary live performances and a radical left-wing stance, their status as pioneers of punk and protest rock has inspired many musicians like RAMONES, THE CLASH, RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE, THE WHITE STRIPES, Slash and countless others and continues to shape the sound of punk and alternative rock for generations to come.

earMUSIC will release the first new music from MC5 in more than 50 years (following 1971's "High Time") with the album "Heavy Lifting" due October 18 — one day prior to the band's induction into 2024's Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame when they will receive the "Musical Excellence Award."

"Heavy Lifting" features guitar and vocals by founding MC5 member Wayne Kramer, who also co-wrote 12 of the album's 13 songs together with Oakland singer/songwriter Brad Brooks. Prolific for five decades, Kramer was the last remaining active member of MC5. He passed away suddenly in February, followed by the death of drummer Dennis "Machine Gun" Thompson in May. It is Thompson's final studio recording.

The album's debut track "Boys Who Play With Matches" is out digitally today, June 6. Stream it below.

In an interview with Uncut in November 2023, Kramer discussed the album and said: "Live long and stay creative. This is my attitude. And this album continues from where 'High Time' left off. In that, I think it's an artist's responsibility to reflect the times they're going through. And I think that we made an album that is in sync with where we're at today and the challenges that we're facing, and that carries a positive message."

"Heavy Lifting" was recorded with iconic producer Bob Ezrin (LOU REED, ALICE COOPER, KISS) and features an all-star lineup of Kramer's friends and musical colleagues, including Slash (GUNS N' ROSES),Tom Morello (RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE),William DuVall (ALICE IN CHAINS),Vernon Reid (LIVING COLOUR),Don Was and Tim McIlrath (RISE AGAINST),allowing for a collaborative effort that bridges the gap between generations of musicians inspired by MC5's fearless approach to music and activism. The breadth of MC5's impact can be heard by all the album's players, including Vicki Randle (ARETHA FRANKLIN),Stevie Salas (PARLIAMENT FUNKADELIC, ROD STEWART),Abe Laboriel Jr. (PAUL MCCARTNEY),Winston Watson Jr. (BOB DYLAN) and Joe Berry (M83). Far more than a trip down memory lane, "Heavy Lifting" is a resounding affirmation that the spirit of punk endures.

"It's very heavy," Ezrin reports on "Heavy Lifting". "It has a revolutionary message but also a good sense of humor. There's a little bit of heavy metal. There's quite a bit of funk. But it is a heavy record, and it's a guitar record left, right and centre. Just a wall of guitars most of the time, and mostly driven by Wayne and his ethos. It's a snapshot of a guitar man at the height of his powers. We all feel a responsibility to make sure that his work is heard, and he is celebrated. We poured our hearts into the project."

In addition to the 13-track album, a 2CD / 2LP bonus disc will be released including previously unreleased live recordings from the MC50 tour in 2018 celebrating the 50th anniversary of MC5's revered 1969 debut album "Kick Out The Jams", which features classic anthems like "Kick Out The Jams" and "Ramblin' Rose". Alongside Kramer, the MC50 live band features SOUNDGARDEN guitarist Kim Thayil, FUGAZI drummer Brendan Canty, FAITH NO MORE's bassist Billy Gould, and frontman Marcus Durant (ZEN GUERRILLA) with a special guest appearance by Mark Arm (MUDHONEY). See the full track listing below.

"Heavy Lifting" track listing:

01. Heavy Lifting (feat. Tom Morello)
02. Barbarians At The Gate
03. Change, No Change
04. The Edge Of The Switchblade (feat. William Duvall and Slash)
05. Black Boots (feat. Tim McIIrath)
06. I Am The Fun (The Phoney)
07. Twenty-Five Miles
08. Because Of Your Car
09. Boys Who Play With Matches
10. Blind Eye (feat. Dennis Thompson)
11. Can't Be Found (feat. Vernon Reid and Dennis Thompson)
12. Blessed Release
13. Hit It Hard (feat. Joe Berry)

Additional track listing (2CD/2LP):

01. Ramblin' Rose
02. Kick Out The Jams
03. Come Together
04. Motor City Is Burning
05. Borderline
06. Gotta Keep Movin'
07. Future/Now
08. Poison
09. Shakin' Street
10. Sister Anne

Photo credit: Jim Newberry (above) / Margaret Saadi Kramer (below) (courtesy of The Outside Organisation)

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