The MC5's 1969 live album ""Kick Out the Jams"" was a new measure of the relationship between music and cultural and political change. As the 'house band' and central organizing force for the White Panther Party, which advocated an end to capitalism and supported the Black Panther Party's initiatives and aims, the MC5 formalized the threat, promise, and parity of music within larger societal spheres. Using the band's career as a case study in evaluating the relationship between rock music and social change, this book examines how the inherent rebelliousness of rock afforded both media producers and consumers a safe space in which to question social mores and ideas. A short history of the link between rock and rebellion examines how early rock music offered a wealth of potentially subversive anti-authoritarianism and sexuality, and created a generational gap in the musical fabric of the United States. Interviews with the surviving band members inform discussion of their varying perspectives on the relationship between the band and White Panther Party officials. A detailed examination of the WPP and the MC5 as a unified social force follows, focusing on band manager and White Panther Party leader John Sinclair's role in forming a band that was the Party's driving semiotic and musical force. Also explored are band members' disparate political and musical visions, the band's career as an accessible product of rock rebellion, its unique on-stage style and lasting musical and social influence, and an examination of the realities and shortcomings of music's place in dissent and social change movements. Several previously unreleased photos of the band and the White Panther Party community are included.
Mathew J. Bartkowiak is an assistant professor at the University of Wisconsin-Marshfield/Wood County. His research interests include popular culture studies, music, social change and development, and the counterculture. His work can be found in such publications as The Journal of Popular Culture and the Journal for the Study of Radicalism.