Album Covers Analysed: MC5, Back in the USA

How a proper rock band should look

mc5

Even at the height of their binges, both The Stones and Led Zep chose to turn the spotlight away from their sweaty faces and frightened daytime eyes, opting instead for arty, conceptual album covers for their records. These would have been commisioned out to dope smoking artists, with a brief to throw something magnificent together in between orgies with their muses, and zany acid trips. Not so with the hard rocking maniacs in MC5 – alongside The Stooges, the greatest band to evolve on the streets of Detroit. For their 1970 Back in the USA album, they used a simple picture of the band staring down the lens of a camera, resulting in as startling and honest an image of a 1970s rock band as you could possibly imagine. With the exception of lead singer Rob Tyner’s wonderful frizzy white-fro, not a single strand of bandmember hair isn’t glued and matted to their sweaty heads, and all of them look absolutely mangled. A hunch suggests that post-photo conversations were either slurred, or expressed violently, using loud shouty noises and frustrated fists. This, people, is what it must really look like to be in a band. Below is a brilliant track from the record…

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