MC5--A True Testimonial

Opens Fri April 2

Clinton Street Theater

Even though they're all the same, rock bios just never get old. That myth-like formula of rising and falling from fame is a great backbone for a story, especially when it's all dressed up with afros and marijuana cigarettes. MC5--A True Testimonial is a thorough documentary of the band's history, including plenty of live footage from shows, some of which are incredibly early and rare.

Just about everything you ever wanted to know is included, even childhood photos. The only disappointing omission is that there's nary a mention of guitarist Wayne Kramer and drummer Dennis Thompson letting famous groupie Cynthia Plaster Caster make molds of their dicks. Otherwise, all the glory days are here, with shots of them humping girls, tales of pissing off Cream, and getting arrested for the famous "Kick out the jams, moootheerfuuuucker!!!" that singer Rob Tyner let out onstage in front of some cops.

One of the main characters in the film is Detroit itself, and the impact their hometown had on their development. All the band members are portrayed as maniacally aggro, catapulting through their youth with a feral vitality that's steeped in a love/hate relationship with their home and the establishment.

Speaking of the establishment, this film also does what every film documenting cultural moments of the '60s and '70s always does: Drag out the protest footage and let the old folks get misty eyed over their crushed hippie hopes of yore. In this case the political end is gifted with humor, due to the band's affiliation with notorious hippie/DJ/manager/talker John Sinclair and subsequent formation of the White Panthers, the mostly bullshit "political organization" that was born more or less because the boys thought the Black Panthers had cool jackets. It did, however, lead to investigative interest from the FBI, and the film even includes footage from surveillance tapes.

The documentary gets a little long by the end, as the downward spiral is carefully depicted play by play. But for the diehard fan or music history buff, this is an irresistible slice of the rock and roll fairy tale.