MC5 - A True Testimonial

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So i check out the MC5 film lastnight... the one they spent like 8 years making. started off a little shaky but ended up real tight. still kinda processing thoughts though... anyone else?

ken taylrr, Wednesday, 17 March 2004 17:27 (sixteen years ago) link

Is there a trailer for the film online somewhere? Couldn't find one at the official movie site.

Jazzbo (jmcgaw), Wednesday, 17 March 2004 18:18 (sixteen years ago) link

I have a bunch of old footage on VHS, but I'd love to see it organized into a doc!

Spencer Chow (spencermfi), Wednesday, 17 March 2004 18:20 (sixteen years ago) link

I'm going to see this tomorrow - there's an interview w/the filmmakers in the latest issue of ARTHUR ( - .pdf downloads available)... the stuff I'm most curious to see is the FBI surveillance footage of the band. That such a thing even exists is just fuckin nuts.

Shakey Mo Collier, Wednesday, 17 March 2004 18:25 (sixteen years ago) link

There definitely was a trailer at one point - I actually have a VHS dub of it, but I don't know that it's available online anywhere.

I missed my chance to see this in Chicago a couple years back as it was sold out. I'm glad to see it's still making the rounds. But man, their website is woefully out of date.

Broheems (diamond), Wednesday, 17 March 2004 18:30 (sixteen years ago) link

actually, the FBI surveillance footage is of them playing at gallup park in ann arbor... er maybe it's grant park in chicago... a park, in any case

ken taylrr, Wednesday, 17 March 2004 20:33 (sixteen years ago) link

Saw this last night - kinda long but definitely rewarding. I was struck by how different the two ex-junkies in the band turned out to be. Davis comes off as your stereotypical junkie rockstar personality - self-absorbed, brain-damaged, alternately inarticulate and evasive, whereas Kramer seems like he's got his shit together, his memory is clear, he speaks well, he looks pretty good. Strange contrast. Live footage and music is great, as expected... I love the way Rob Tyner kept that overblown afro the rest of his life, he was my favorite in the film for sure.

Shakey Mo Collier, Friday, 19 March 2004 19:52 (sixteen years ago) link

I saw this last year (?) maybe at the SF Indie Film Fest. I liked it. It was a pretty good low-budget rocker doc about a band I always found pretty interesting.

Alex in SF (Alex in SF), Friday, 19 March 2004 20:37 (sixteen years ago) link

I saw the Los Angeles premiere last year with Wayne Kramer, Michael Davis, and the filmmakers. The movie *isn't* really a proper documentary, it's more of a tour through the MC5 home movie drawer. In the movie, Michael Davis comes off as this Harry Dean Stanton-type living way out in the desert south of Tucson, Kramer seems much more hang-wringing about things, while Dennis Thompson is still bugfuck crazy (his interviews totally steal the show) and John Sinclair is still the beatnik Santa Claus.

Some of the films are amazing - the FBI footage is great, but there's one clip of them performing "Looking At You" from 1970 or so that is just head-exploding and made the crowd in the theater break out in ovations. I wish Tyner and Smith were still around - there are a couple of old interviews with them in the film, but I would have loved to hear what they had to say now.

Elvis Telecom (Chris Barrus), Friday, 19 March 2004 22:57 (sixteen years ago) link

yeah the "Looking at You" performance is the one complete musical sequence they show and the sound is actually crystal clear - love those James Brown moves Wayne does while whipping his guitar around!

Shakey Mo Collier, Friday, 19 March 2004 23:19 (sixteen years ago) link

two weeks pass...
Now it looks like the DVD is being held up indefinitely. Here's what the filmmakers and Tyner's widow say. And then there's what Kramer, Davis, and Thompson have to say.

Bottom line: it seems like the filmmakers didn't realize the moneymaking potential of their movie and never put anything in writing. Now with the MC3 tour in the works, it's a run for the cash. It's too bad because the footage in it is truly fantastic, but I gotta side with Wayne and co. here.

Perhaps the DVDs will leak out onto BitTorrent or something.

Elvis Telecom (Chris Barrus), Monday, 5 April 2004 00:42 (sixteen years ago) link

This is pretty sad, but it's hard not to side with the band.

Alex in SF (Alex in SF), Monday, 5 April 2004 01:00 (sixteen years ago) link

it really sucks, because the movie is so very good, and would rather see an informed and superbly researched movie on the band's past than a document of their current existence as Levi's marketing men. i don't begrudge Kramer et al wanting renumeration this far down the line, but A True Testimonial is a *fantastical* memorial for a band that will never exist again, and the art and soul of rob tyner and fred sonic smith.

stevie (stevie), Monday, 5 April 2004 11:10 (sixteen years ago) link

...though kramer's argument is convincing too...

DAMMIT! i just want to see the movie again!!

stevie (stevie), Monday, 5 April 2004 11:26 (sixteen years ago) link

I'm so excited I'm going to see this on Wednesday.

rw, Monday, 5 April 2004 14:31 (sixteen years ago) link

The movie was fantastic, if you get the chance to see it don't hesitate. As someone said above it starts a bit shakily but soon picks up. The old Tyner interview was great, especially his story about Cream.

rw, Thursday, 8 April 2004 15:28 (sixteen years ago) link

two months pass...
Those DKT/MC5 guys absolutely rocked the house last night at the Bowery Ballroom. I went only out of some sense of obligation, but they turned me around fast. A loose, hard, celebratory show. 50-something year old fat guys were body surfing. Marshall Crenshaw was a perfect sub for Sonic Smith. He brought along his aw-shucks persona, but also his surprising chops. Mark Arm and Evan Dando were less than perfect, but it didn't matter. Brother Wayne was blistering. The drummer broke a snare head. Handsome Dick Manitoba sang "American Ruse." If you get the chance. . .see them!

Sang Freud (jeff_s), Tuesday, 15 June 2004 15:52 (fifteen years ago) link

four years pass...

Finally seeing this. As everyone says, it's damn worth it.

Ned Raggett, Monday, 9 March 2009 01:23 (eleven years ago) link

one of my faves, if not my favorite rock doc.

i lent my bootleg copy out a year or more ago and never got it back. must remedy this pronto.

now is the time to winterize your manscape (will), Monday, 9 March 2009 01:40 (eleven years ago) link

i like the bit about five minutes from the end where they mention heroin for the first time. GLARING OMISSION.

that and the bit where robin tyner paints himself gold.

deveraux billings (schlump), Monday, 9 March 2009 02:49 (eleven years ago) link

gotta admit, it's pretty hokey/endearing the way they come off as tough guys but then do that goofy synchronized kicking routine on stage...

henry s, Monday, 9 March 2009 02:50 (eleven years ago) link

i always love that bit in soul documentaries when they start talking about the influence of sly stone and vietnam and acid on the sixties and motown, and how it went from like baby love -> lovechild all over, etc, and the temptations released ball of confusion. and it's this badass temptations song with a real message to it, but they're still doing that silly elfin tip-toe dance routine in green suits.

deveraux billings (schlump), Monday, 9 March 2009 04:00 (eleven years ago) link

two years pass...

c'mon guys, make this happen

I have seen this movie and it is awesome btw

no slouch of a snipster (Shakey Mo Collier), Thursday, 5 May 2011 03:54 (eight years ago) link

Kick it up again, deadline approaching.

Ned Raggett, Friday, 6 May 2011 04:40 (eight years ago) link

nine months pass...

RIP MC5 bassist Michael Davis

demolition with discretion (m coleman), Sunday, 19 February 2012 17:59 (eight years ago) link


Bee OK, Monday, 20 February 2012 04:19 (eight years ago) link

eight months pass...

Watched this again last night. Still love this movie a lot, but I never bothered to check out the extra features on the DVD (this is the advance DVD that was never released). Great interview with Charles Moore about "Skunk (Sonically Speaking)" where the studio engineer is seriously questioning the horns "you really want the horns to sound like that?"

Elvis Telecom, Monday, 29 October 2012 06:05 (seven years ago) link

Some really great performance videos on there too.

Really god film, shame it wasn't officially released. Can't remember the details as to why it wasn't at the moment. It obviously had a great deal of input from members, Wayne Kramer is seen driving around narrating the story for a large part of it.

Think it's pretty exemplary in fact so it should be allowed to be seen.

Stevolende, Monday, 29 October 2012 10:42 (seven years ago) link

I see there are available 'copies' on a famous auction/sale website..

Mark G, Monday, 29 October 2012 10:45 (seven years ago) link

I think it was due to a disagreement over money and rights after the doc was completed. i'm bummed because it's a fantastic movie, but i can understand, given his history, why wayne might be averse to being ripped off again.

wrapped in naval (stevie), Monday, 29 October 2012 11:04 (seven years ago) link

from wiki:

In April 2004, Kramer sued Legler and Thomas. In his suit, Kramer alleged that Legler and Thomas had promised he would be the film's music producer, an assertion the film-makers denied.[13] With the lawsuit, distribution of MC5: A True Testimonial ended and plans for a DVD release in May were canceled.[3] In March 2007, the court ruled in favor of Legler and Thomas,[14] and the Court of Appeals upheld the decision on appeal.[15] Nevertheless, MC5: A True Testimonial has not been released on DVD, although in 2011 the film-makers began a fund-raising campaign to pay for rights to the band's music.

I seem to recall Kramer saying at the time that at the 11th hour the film-makers approached the surviving members with some sort of scheme that would cut them in as copyright holders on the group's name and publishing.

Timely revive. I finally picked up a boot of this for $10 at the Austin Record Show yesterday. It's a rip of the advance disc, down to the menus but sans bonus features.

50 Shades of Greil (C. Grisso/McCain), Monday, 29 October 2012 19:28 (seven years ago) link

Odd, thought if you got the menus you'd gt the bonuses. THey worked on mine.

Stevolende, Monday, 29 October 2012 21:01 (seven years ago) link

No, I'm just stupid. I put the disc in again and I do in fact have the extras, it's just slightly tricky to get to them on my pc dvd player program. I have to go past the animated menus to the static screen ones to get the slection star to work. I just couldn't get my head around that last night.

50 Shades of Greil (C. Grisso/McCain), Monday, 29 October 2012 21:26 (seven years ago) link

eleven months pass...

oh hey, this is on YouTube at the moment, if you haven't seen it. good stuff.

GM, Friday, 18 October 2013 20:54 (six years ago) link

awesome! it's a great movie.

fit and working again, Friday, 18 October 2013 21:00 (six years ago) link

four months pass...

Gone from Youtube while Amazon says:

MC5: A True Testimonial Starring Dennis Thompson (II), Fred 'Sonic' Smith, Rob Tyner, et al. (1970)



1 used from $299.99

curmudgeon, Saturday, 15 March 2014 15:52 (six years ago) link

Was listening to "Back in the US" for the first time in awhile, and it still sounds great.

curmudgeon, Saturday, 15 March 2014 15:55 (six years ago) link

one year passes...

Οὖτις, Wednesday, 10 June 2015 20:53 (four years ago) link

two years pass...

And all these years later, a legit release!

Ned Raggett, Tuesday, 6 March 2018 23:13 (two years ago) link

What did it say, Ned? There's nothing there when I click.

my dreams in the hell-pits (GOTT PUNCH II HAWKWINDZ), Thursday, 8 March 2018 20:12 (two years ago) link

one year passes...

Οὖτις, Thursday, 23 January 2020 18:10 (two months ago) link

Hope that doesn't get pulled down. Good doc.

curmudgeon, Friday, 24 January 2020 05:08 (two months ago) link

it's such a fantastic doc. i wish wayne could find some way to allow it being released somehow, it's the perfect tribute to his band and i don't see anyone going to such lengths to make another.

Pinche Cumbion Bien Loco (stevie), Friday, 24 January 2020 08:26 (two months ago) link

Dennis Thompson wasn't happy with the doc, either:

F/N chose to do my personal interviews during the most incredibly painful time of my life. My mother had passed away four days before, and I fell back into drug abuse and alcoholism with a vengeance. I had pleaded with Dave and Laurel to postpone my interviews until I had a chance to bounce back, but was told, “You can do this! You gotta. You must do this now!” I didn’t want to be interviewed until I got a grip on myself. In short, I allowed them into my home.

(You see, it can appear I was singled out to be portrayed in the film as the angry, bitter, resentful, foul mouthed, stoned, and controversial “bad boy” member.)

I had been clean and sober during the whole of 1998. It’s so odd that there were no on-camera interviews then. Not the least bit surprising, in retrospect. After some time elapsed, I called them and asked them to film me again. I knew it didn’t go well. I was apologetic and willing to do right by them and myself. Dave dismissed my plea. He accused me of trying to “screw them over,” and that the footage they had would do. So much for “righteous” behavior.

Montgomery Burns' Jazz (Tarfumes The Escape Goat), Friday, 24 January 2020 15:36 (two months ago) link

two months pass...

Wayne Kramer just did a live Q&A online on Facebook. I stumbled on it towards the end.¬if_id=1585162900092395¬if_t=video_reply&redirect=false
Not sure if that link gets you there. It just finished and i have a playback going on.

Stevolende, Wednesday, 25 March 2020 19:05 (two weeks ago) link

Also answered some questions typed into FB>

Looks like he's been looking for studio recorded material from their Elektra days for the last 50 years and still not found it.

Also that there doesn't seem to be a lot of unreleased MC5 footage. I had been told that people were looking through stacks of it when A true Testimonial was being made. BUt heard taht 2nd hand from somebody who said he knew people who were working where it was being edited , if not directly involved. Did hope there might be some more. What there has been has been great.
I thought there was a studio set from Tubeworks but it looks like the Tubeworks footage is that outdoor performance where Wayne starts dancing on one leg.

Stevolende, Thursday, 26 March 2020 10:32 (one week ago) link

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