So my sage advice to any aspiring musicians out there is 'Never start an album with a cover of Tutti Frutti'. Seriously, no matter how good you think it sounds at 3.00am in the morning in some over priced recording studio with coke powdered across your nose and caked in your beard, do not open your album with a cover of 'Tutti Frutti'.
The first time I heard 'Back in the USA' was at college in 1995, my flat mate Dan had a copy. I was impressed not least because of the truly iconic sleeve. I'd heard the song 'Kick out the Jams' a few years before and I was aware that the MC5 were name dropped by people who had serious conversations about music. Anyway, he put it on starting with side 1 track 1. We both laughed and I left the room before the end of the song, unaware that I would leave it another fourteen years before attempting to revisit that album. How differently things might be if we had kicked off with the second side.
I just put the record on for the first time in forever (a murder sentence with good behavior taken into consideration no less) after buying a copy from Alan's Records of East Finchley, London at the weekend, more, much more on that shortly. Anyway, not sure why I gave it a go again but I did and it's really fucking good. The bass needs to be louder and probably is on subsequent remasters but anyway, through my hugely opinionated and not always particularly accurate eyes this is kind of where LOVE might have gone had they not disintegrated into an Arthur Lee led name sake of dubious worth. The fat guy with the gappy teeth and Hair Bear Bunch barnet (another reason for the previous wide-berth) sounds a lot like Lee and Wayne Kramer's guitar is not dislike some of the more uptempo work that Brian Maclean and Johnny Echols were responsible for circa 'Forever Changes'.
Parts of 'Back in the USA' do stray dangerously into 'Boogie Woogie' territory but what saves it from anything close to mediocrity is the last track on side 1 'Looking at You'. Fuck me if I didn't just play it six times in a row. One one occasion I actually got out of the shower, dried my arm and and skipped the needle back to the start of the song. 'Looking at You' is just really, really good it's what the magazines might describe as a 'classic slice of fuzz guitar driven proto-punk', sadly best I can do is 'really, really good.'
I'm going to put it on again now.