Here is an excerpt/teaser from the best music documentary I’ve ever seen, MC5 A True Testimonial, completed in 2002 by filmmakers David Thomas and Laurel Legler:
In 2004, on what I had been assured was the eve of the film’s release, we published an interview with the filmmakers in Arthur, the free national magazine that I was editing (and co-owning). That article, “HIGH FIVE: Detroit’s visionary MC5 receive a film tribute that aims to rewrite rock history” by Steffie Nelson, is available to read here at the Arthur Archive.
I got so cranked by this film, and by Steffie’s great interview, that we built out a whole section of that issue of Arthur around the band.
In addition to the aforementioned interview with the filmmakers, rockwriters James Parker, The Seth Man and Ian F. Svenonius contributed brilliant pieces that added up to “TEN OUT OF 5: A comprehensive guide to the MC5’s recordings, for the curious, the enthusiast and the hopeless completist” (read it here at the Arthur Archive). There were some other sidebar pieces, and a ton of great vintage photography courtesy Leni Sinclair, and new artwork by Plastic Crimewave. We even got MC5 singer Rob Tyner’s impressive ‘fro on the cover, along with a giant centerfold spread that featured a photo of a nearly life-size Tyner handing a joint to the reader. Bill Nelson’s page design was sensational. (If you want a copy of the magazine, you can order a copy here.)
We were all working for free, or going into debt, or in one case, getting something somewhere south of minimum wage…none of which was unusual when it comes to the MC5. This is the kind of band—and this was the kind of film, and 2004 was the kind of time in American history—that stirs up such devotion.
We got carried away for a reason. You’d be able to see why, except…
MC5 A True Testimonial never got a legitimate release, due to some tedious legal loose ends that have taken years to work out.
But now, apparently, the filmmakers are within $27,000 of being able to get this film out there for all to see. A friend of the MC5 has been conducting a Kickstarter campaign to get the money. It has four days to go: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/orchide-detroit/mc5-a-true-testimonial
UPDATE 5.30.11: New campaign ending July 4, 2011 to raise $25k via kickstarter-like IndieGoGo to acquire the synchronization license to use the MC5 music in the film. This is the final hurdle that needs to be cleared before this film can be released.
Do what you need to do to look yourself in the mirror and feel good about yourself.
Need more? Here’s some (apparent) surveillance footage shot by a US government agency of the MC5 performing in the park at the 1968 Democractic National Convention in Chicago, right before the cop riot started. There’s no sound, but…