Back in the USA (album)

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Back in the USA
Studio album by MC5
Released January 15, 1970
Recorded 1969 at GM Studios, East Detroit, Michigan
Genre Rock and roll, protopunk, hard rock
Length 28:08
Label Atlantic
Producer Jon Landau
MC5 chronology
Kick Out the Jams
(1969)
Back in the USA
(1970)
High Time
(1971)

Back in the USA is the 1970 debut studio album, and second album overall, by the American protopunk band MC5. The opening track is a cover of the classic hit "Tutti Frutti" by Little Richard, "Let Me Try" is a ballad, "The American Ruse" attacks what the Detroit quintet saw as the hypocritical idea of freedom espoused by the US government, and "The Human Being Lawnmower" expresses opposition to the US involvement in the Vietnam War. The last song on the album, which is the title track, is a cover of Chuck Berry's 1959 single "Back in the U.S.A.".

Background[edit]

The central focus of the album is the band's actual movement away from the raw, thrashy sound pioneered and captured on their first release Kick Out the Jams. This was due in part to producer Jon Landau's distaste for the rough psychedelic rock movement, and his adoration for the straightforward rock & roll of the 1950s.

Landau, who originally wrote for Rolling Stone Magazine, was looking to get more involved in actual music production. Becoming close with Atlantic Records executive Jerry Wexler was his chance and led Landau to the politically radical MC5, who had just been picked up by Atlantic after being dropped from Elektra Records in 1969 – ironically, the Kinney National Company (later known as Time Warner), parent of Atlantic, would acquire Elektra in the same year of this album's release; both labels are now part of the Warner Music Group (now a separate company from TW), through the Atlantic Records Group.

Reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 4.5/5 stars link
Robert Christgau A− link
Rolling Stone mixed link
Sputnikmusic 4.5/5 stars link

Though the album was viewed as a flop early on by most fans, and lacked the commercial success of their previous release, it would later be considered highly important due to the album's absolute projection of MC5's core sound and earliest influences.

In 2011, the album was ranked number 451 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.

NME listed the album as number 490 on their list of '500 Greatest Albums of All Time'.

"High School" was featured in the 1979 movie Rock 'n' Roll High School, although not on the soundtrack album. It was also covered by Michael Monroe on his first solo album Nights Are So Long.

"Shakin' Street" was covered by The Vibrators.

"The American Ruse" was covered by The Hellacopters.

"Looking at You" was covered by The Damned in 1979 on their Machine Gun Etiquette album.

Track listing[edit]

All tracks composed by MC5, except where indicated.

  1. "Tutti Frutti" (Dorothy LaBostrie, Joe Lubin, Richard Penniman) – 1:30
  2. "Tonight" – 2:29
  3. "Teenage Lust" – 2:36
  4. "Let Me Try" – 4:16
  5. "Looking at You" – 3:03
  6. "High School" – 2:42
  7. "Call Me Animal" – 2:06
  8. "The American Ruse" – 2:31
  9. "Shakin' Street" – 2:21
  10. "The Human Being Lawnmower" – 2:24
  11. "Back in the U.S.A." (Chuck Berry) – 2:26

Personnel[edit]

Additional Personnel
  • Danny Jordan – keyboards
  • Pete Kelly – keyboards

References[edit]