True story – I worked for a while as a copywriter for a company that sold office supplies, and I once tried to use “Kick out the Jams” as a tagline for a rather nifty inkjet printer. I guess it was that one tricky following word that send me back to my laptop for another draft.
And the thing is, that one potty-mouthed word after that infamous line that explodes onto the title track of this album was big news way back before The KLF made it so well known. The original release had “Kick Out the Jams Motherfuckers!” in nice satisfying bold print on the inside cover, a move that got the band dropped from the Elektra label, but not before they’d managed to publish a full page ad saying “Fuck Hudsons”, a reference to the department store chain that had banned the album.
It’s a fierce, caustic bastard of an album. It’s been described as ‘the first punk album’ (although I’d give a nod to The Monks’ “Black Monk Time” there). It’s one that it’s taken me more than a few listens to really buy into, and it’s one that still feels of its time for all its punky sensibilities . The opener “Rambling Rose” sounds like Creedence if you had a really vicious hangover, “Kick Out the Jams” is the rockiest rocker of the album, and the tracks that follow, like “Come Together” and “Rocket Reducer No. 62” mix screeching rock with influences of psychedelia and even avant-garde jazz (they were big fans of Sun Ra, as you can tell from the transient weirdness of “Starship” and epicness of “Motor City is Burning”).
MC5 of course, were the real deal. Proper Marxist hippy commune anarcho-bastards, they once played an eight-hour set at a Vietnam protest when no one else turned up. This album was described by Lester Bangs as “ridiculous, overbearing and pretentious”, which I’d have taken as a compliment, and it’s now seen as one of the fiercest, most energetic live albums of all time.
Oh yeah, and I always have to smile at that “I hope you all did, come together” line.