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 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

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 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

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 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

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 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

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 But man, their website is woefully out of date.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 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

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 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

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 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

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 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

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 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

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 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

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 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

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 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

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 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

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

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

stevie (stevie), Monday, 5 April 2004 11:26 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

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

rw, Monday, 5 April 2004 14:31 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

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 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

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 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

four years pass...

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

Ned Raggett, Monday, 9 March 2009 01:23 (nine years ago) Permalink

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 (nine years ago) Permalink

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 (nine years ago) Permalink

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 (nine years ago) Permalink

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 (nine years ago) Permalink

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 (seven years ago) Permalink

Kick it up again, deadline approaching.

Ned Raggett, Friday, 6 May 2011 04:40 (seven years ago) Permalink

nine months pass...


Bee OK, Monday, 20 February 2012 04:19 (six years ago) Permalink

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 (six years ago) Permalink

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 (six years ago) Permalink

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

Mark G, Monday, 29 October 2012 10:45 (six years ago) Permalink

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 (six years ago) Permalink

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 (six years ago) Permalink

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

Stevolende, Monday, 29 October 2012 21:01 (six years ago) Permalink

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 (six years ago) Permalink

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 (five years ago) Permalink

awesome! it's a great movie.

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

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 (four years ago) Permalink

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 (four years ago) Permalink

one year passes...

Οὖτις, Wednesday, 10 June 2015 20:53 (three years ago) Permalink

two years pass...

And all these years later, a legit release!

Ned Raggett, Tuesday, 6 March 2018 23:13 (nine months ago) Permalink

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 (nine months ago) Permalink

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