Prompt 085: Live Rock of the '60s
85. The 1960s saw the birth of some iconic bands like The Beatles and The Rolling Stones. Which band from the 1960s would you most like to see live in its heyday and why? How would such a concert differ from one held today and why?
Just today, I was watching some videos of live performances of indie rock bands from "back in the day." I think I kicked things off when someone posted a video of Sonic Youth's cover of The Stooges' "Let Me Be Your Dog," a live performance on a late-night show back in 1989. I tracked down the original, and I could definitely understand the urge to cover it. It's a jammin' tune.
I meandered to James Chance & The Contortions with "Contort Yourself" from the late '70s. It came to mind after seeing the Sonic Youth footage and the unbridled stage antics and especially the brilliant smile on the drummer's face. The same kind of unrestrained explosion of energy was in Chance's spastic performance from '78 or whenever that was.
I remembered the Sex Pistols had covered The Stooges as well, with their rendition of "No Fun." Personally I'm not so fond of the Sex Pistols and their manufactured origins, but they did a live cover of No Fun that stands on its own. I used to have it on cassette tape and remember listening to that and "Sub Mission" over and over and over again (Sub Mission is likely my favourite tune of the Sex Pistols, and I'm pretty sure it's one of their original tunes).
I started remembering other bands I used to listen to. While on the exercise bike, I listened to a playlist of The Breeders, an alt-rock band established in the mid-'90s that featured twin sisters and a style that flip-flopped between psychedelic folk ballads and garage-basement jams.
After my binge on The Breeders, it was only natural to shift to The Pixies. I was so driven to do this, that I also ended up buying The Pixies greatest hits album on a whim. $8 that's well-spent, for sure. I'm listening to it now, as I type.
...All this to say that none of these bands meet my criteria for iconic band from the 60's I'd like to have seen live. Although Black Sabbath is pretty high on the list, the unrivaled champions for this dubious title would have to the The MC5.
All I hear is, "KICK OUT THE JAMS, MUTHA-FUCKAHZ!!!" Wayne Kramer's guitar crashes in after that unforgettable introduction to Kick Out The Jams, somebody smashes the shit out of the drums, and with that The MC5 were seared into my brain as one of the long-lost rock n' roll rage acts that careened out of the late 60's with a howl, to give birth to punk on the grimy bathroom floor of Chuck Berry's grampa's house.
(Okay, that last part was a bit much. But fuck it. It's been a long week.)
Some other great acts from the 60's that come to mind would be Fanny, who I just learned of this year and whom I am convinced had one of the best drummers (let alone best female musicians) of the era: a lesbian wallflower who was reviled by her own bandmates (who happened to be judgmental Christian sisters).
Likely the fathers of punk were a group not even in the northern hemisphere. Earlier this year, I heard about Los Saicos, out of Peru, of all places...! Astonishing jangly proto-punk from the mid-'60s. They sang songs about dying cats, about insanity, and then a love ballad. Their entire discography was like 12 songs: another purchase I made earlier this year and don't regret one bit.
This would be MC5 all the way, without a doubt. Even though there were some other wonderful, astonishing, trailblazing bands in the world during the 60's... And basically no one can touch James Brown.