The KIller Up! -liner notes by John Sinclair
The Up: Killer Up!
Alive!/Total Energy NERCD-3003
Liner notes By John Sinclair
It’s common to name the MC-5 and the Stooges among the forefathers of what they call “punk rock,” but it was their associates in a third band, the Up, who could more accurately be identified as the real precursors of punk.
In fact, if you trace the punk-rock lineage back to the Ramones–and many do–the connection is even clearer, because the Ramones were really little more than a watered-down, cheapened clone of the once mighty Up of Detroit and Ann Arbor.
This determined quartet of “killer skinnies from the Murder City” were not as skilled in music and stagecraft as their stablemates in the MC-5, nor as charismatic as their colleague Jim Osterberg (Iggy Pop) and his band the Stooges, but they dedicated every fiber of their being to playing high-energy rock & roll that was designed to inspire their audiences to leave the square world behind and come and join the revolution.
Of course, to call the Up (or the MC-5) “punk-rock” during the 1960s and early 70s would be asking for a fight, because “punk” was a specific term of opprobrium used to describe a sniveling coward with an attitude but no means to enforce it–or, in the extreme, the same scumbag in a prison setting who had been punked in the ass by bigger, stronger, but no less petty thugs with an even more relentless attitude.
In the modern sense of “punk,” however, the Up had it all: they were inspired amateurs who learned to play by forming a band and bashing out loud, primitive rock & roll chords under lyrics that were meant to challenge every assumption and rule of the established order.
Ten years before the ascendancy of the whacky anarchy espoused by the punk-rock movement, the Up were out to change the world by the force of their musical assault and the purity of their intentions. And, as committed members of the commune of kamikaze culturo-political activists known variously between 1966 and 1973 as the Detroit Artists’ Workshop, Trans-Love Energies, the White Panther Party, and the Rainbow People’s Party, the Up kept up the pressure from beginning to end with little regard for the niceties of pop music or the potential rewards of the pop marketplace. between 1966 and 1973 between 1966 and 1973 The Up were formed in 1967 by Franklin Bach (ne Frank Dedenbach), a denizen of Detroit’s east side who had attended University of Detroit High School on the west wide, enrolled at Wayne State University, and dropped out of college soon after becoming stage manager and announcer at the newly-opened Grande (that’s “Grand-ee”) Ballroom in October 1966, when the MC-5 was its “house band” by virtue of the band’s almost weekly appearances there from opening night on. between 1966 and 1973.
I had met Frank Bach and Rob Tyner a couple of months earlier, in August 1966, when I heard them talking outside my garret door across from the Fifth Estate newspaper office on Plum Street, the short-lived hippie enclave just west of downtown Detroit. Frank was writing the Rock & Roll column for the underground newspaper to which I contributed a regular arts column called The Coat Puller, and he and Tyner were there to turn in their heated response to something I’d unwisely written about the MC-5 and rock music in general.
I invited them into my tiny apartment and offered a joint to go along with the Cecil Taylor record playing on the box. Thus disarmed, Bach and Tyner came in, sat down, enjoyed the smoke and the music, and the three of us got to know each other a little bit. Tyner and I became fast friends almost from that day onward, and Frank Bach–well, Frank Bach and I are still working together today, almost 30 years later!
Actually, Frank and my brother David worked together first, right from the time when–inspired by his life-long love of music and the example of his friends in the MC-5 and other bands playing the Grande–Bach hooked up with the Rasmussen brothers, Bob (guitar) and Gary (bass), plus drummer Vic Peraino to form the Up.
My brother David, a 1967 graduate of Dartmouth College, forsook all other life possibilities to come to Detroit after graduation to join the Artists’ Workshop/Trans-Love Energies commune in the heart of the Motor City. Originally attracted by the jazz-poetry-art activities which made the Detroit Artists’ Workshop such an exciting place to be in the mid-1960s, Dave and Frank Bach became tight friends during the riotous summer of 1967 and came out of it partners in crime with respect to the Up–Frank as the lead singer, Dave as the band’s manager.
At the same time my own friendship with Rob Tyner and Wayne Kramer had led me into the same form of relationship with the MC-5, and I became the 5’s manager in the fall of 1967. Thereafter my brother and I worked closely to advance the standing of both bands in the local rock & roll community and, hopefully, on a national level as well.
When the Trans-Love commune moved to Ann Arbor in May 1968 following the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., the MC-5 and the Up both made the move with us, and we all settled in a large house at 1510 Hill Street near the University of Michigan campus. The Up played many engagements opening for the MC-5, and even more as the main attraction in small Ann Arbor and Detroit venues, at teen clubs, ballrooms, benefits and free concerts, and on shows with other bands both local and national in scope.
In Ann Arbor the Up replaced Vic Peraino with drummer Scott Bailey and continued to roll under the guidance of my brother David. We hooked up with my friend Jimmy Silver, who became associated with Trans-Love Productions when he started managing a daring local group known as the Psychedelic Stooges. As with the Up, the MC-5–the most popular of the three units–extended every effort to assist the Stooges gain an audience and, whenever possible, featured one or both bands on its own shows.
One of my most vivid memories of that period pictures the Up turning into Lincoln Park in Chicago in their little red van to join the MC-5 and the Yippie mob in celebrating the Festival of Life at the Democratic National Convention. The 5 were hastily beating their way out of the beleagured park after our performance had been interrupted by Abbie Hoffman’s speech haranguing the crowd to defy the hordes of Chicago policemen who were advancing on the scene with their nightsticks swinging and their teargas guns firing away.
The Up had raced over to Chicago from Ann Arbor–about 250 miles–in order to contribute to the festivities at Lincoln Park, and it was my own unpleasant duty to have to advise them to turn around and get the fuck out of there before the cops could get their hands on any of us.
Only a month later, in September 1968, Elektra Records president Jac Holzman came to Ann Arbor (at the urging of Danny Fields) and signed the MC-5 and the Stooges after a wild show at the Union Ballroom, but he passed on the opening act–the Up.
In October 1968, driven by our experience in Chicago, the continuously escalating war against the people of Vietnam, and the government’s relentless persecution of both marijuana smokers and the Black liberation movement spearheaded by the Black Panther Party, the people at the Trans-Love commune and several friends in the community established the White Panther Party with headquarters at the band house on Hill Street.
The MC-5 and the Up (though not the Stooges) were active members of the WPP, public spokesmen spreading the message of resistance, rebellion and revolution to the young rock & roll fanatics who made up their audience. Both bands threw out thousands of White Panther buttons to the crowds at their performances and used the White Panther symbol and rhetoric in all their printed materials. White Panther flags and literature were visibly in evidence at all their appearances, and often White Panther speakers like Larry “Pun” Plamondon, Milton “Skip” Taube, Genie Plamondon and myself were brought on stage to address the audience during breaks in the music.
When the MC-5 broke with Trans-Love Energies and the White Panther Party just before I was sent to prison in July 1969 to serve a 9-1/2 to 10-year sentence for possession of two marijuana cigarettes, the Up stepped up to take their place and became the primary propaganda force of the WPP (and, after May 1971, the Rainbow People’s Party), taking the Party’s message to rock & roll venues throughout Michigan and the Midwest until the band’s demise in 1973.
By the spring of 1969 the MC-5 had become a national recording act and the Stooges joined them soon after, but the Up continued to toil in the local rock & roll vineyards without ever securing a national recording contract. The band issued a 45 single, “Just Like An Aborigine” b/w “Hassan I Sabbah,” on SunDance Records in 1970, and the ‘A’ side of another single, “Free John Now” (b/w “Prayer for John Sinclair” by Allen Ginsberg), on Rainbow Records in December 1971, but no more of their music was to see the light of day until the issue of this album in 1995.
The material finally released here includes both issued singles (including the Allen Ginsberg B-side of “Free John Now,” a 45 released and passed out free at the John Sinclair Freedom Rally at Crisler Arena in Ann Arbor on December 10, 1971); a completely finished version of the Earl King/Jimi Hendrix tune “Come On (Let the Good Times Roll)” with additional lyrics by Frank Bach; several songs from a recording session at Head Sound Studios in Ypsilanti, Michigan; and some tunes recorded “live” at the Agora Ballroom in Columbus, Ohio on a typical early 1970s night in the Upper Midwest.
This is definitely some very raw shit, played the way it was meant to be played, intended to inspire pissed-off young Americans to join the band in trying to overthrow the government and establish a better world. Long relegated to the dusty tape boxes and sagging shelves of the voluminous John Sinclair Audio Archives, here it is in your face at last–the sound of the mighty Up, roaring out of Ann Arbor in a futile attempt to take over the world with rock & roll.
March 15, 1995
(C) 1995, 2006 John Sinclair. All Rights Reserved.
Alive!/Total Energy NERCD-3003
1. “Just Like An Aborigine” (Mix 1)
2. “Do The Sun Dance”
3. “Free John Now” (Mix 3)
4. “Come On” (Earl King, Travis Music Co., BMI)
5. “C’mon And Swim” (Thomas Coman/Sylvester Stewart)
6. “Hassan I Sabbah”
7. “Sisters, Sisters (Sisters Rising)”
9. “Train Kept A-Rollin'” (Tiny Bradshaw)
10. “Just Like An Aborigine” (Mix 2)
11. “I Don’t Need You”
12. “Never Say Die”
13. “Free John Now” (Mix 1)
Plus! Bonus Cut by Allen Ginsberg: 14. “Prayer For John Sinclair” (Allen Ginsberg)
THE UP: Frank Bach, lead vocal; Bob Rasmussen, electric guitar; Gary Rasmussen, electric bass; Scott Bailey, drums.
Produced By John Sinclair & Patrick Boissel for Total Energy Records