While lacking the monumental impact of Kick Out the Jams, the MC5's second album is in many regards their best and most influential, its lean, edgy sound anticipating the emergence of both the punk and power pop movements to follow later in the decade. Bookended by a pair of telling covers -- Little Richard's "Tutti Frutti" and Chuck Berry's "Back in the U.S.A." -- the disc is as much a look back at rock & roll's origins as it is a push forward into the music's future; given the Five's vaunted revolutionary leanings, for instance, it's both surprising and refreshing to discover the record's emotional centerpiece is a doo wop-inspired ballad, "Let Me Try," that's the most lovely and gentle song in their catalog. The recurring theme which drives Back in the USA is adolescence, its reminiscences alternately fond and embittered -- while cuts like "Tonight," "Teenage Lust," "High School," and "Shakin' Street" celebrate youth in all its rebellious glory, others like "The American Ruse" and "The Human Being Lawnmower" condemn a system which eats its young, filling their heads with lies before sending them off to war. Equally gripping is the record's singular sound -- produced by Jon Landau with an almost complete disregard for the bottom end, Back in the USA captures a live-wire intensity 180 degrees removed from the group's live sound yet perfectly suited to the material at hand, resulting in music which not only salutes the power of rock & roll but also reaffirms it.
Performance CreditsMC5 Primary Artist
Michael Davis Bass,Vocals,Group Member
Rob Tyner Harmonica,Vocals,Group Member
Pete Kelly Keyboards
Wayne Kramer Guitar,Keyboards,Vocals,Group Member
Dan Jordan Keyboards
Fred "Sonic" Smith Guitar,Harmonica,Keyboards,Vocals,Group Member
Dennis Thompson Drums,Vocals,Group Member
Danny Jordan Keyboards
Technical CreditsMichael Davis Composer
Rob Tyner Composer
Wayne Kramer Composer
Jon Landau Audio Production
Fred "Sonic" Smith Composer
Dennis Thompson Composer
Dave Marsh Liner Notes
Dennis Tomich Composer
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Back in the USA based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
You know you have a great group on your hands when nobody can agree on the best album. I love all of the three official MC5 recordings, but Back In The U.S.A. is in my opinion, their definitive statement. It's short and sweet - all killer and no filler. Despite the almost complete absence of bass, this is nonetheless their strongest set of songs melody-wise. The razor thin sound would go on to influence the punk explosion of the late '70s, along with other greats such as The Stooges, also from the Detroit area. It's fun, infectious and a must for any collector of true cult rock classics. More people should check out this underrated classic, which remains a keystone of the Detroit rock scene today.