Mad for the Racket


Mad for the Racket

Mad for the Racket

Mad For the




Originally released: 2000 “Right now, it’s time to kick out the
jams, motherfucker!” That was the cry to arms that preceded the
second track on the MC5’s 1969 debut. The record, titled Kick Out the
Jams, came to land in the camp that became known as protopunk—those
records which saptured the sort of attitude, an approach of wild abandon in
the music, that went on to inspire the coming waves of punks.


One of those first bands of punks was the Damned, which hit the ground
kicking and screaming with a single (“New Rose” in 1976 and a
full-length record (Damned Damned Damned) in 1977, both marked by the
hammering of guitars, beating of the drums and thumping of the bass. But,
while the Damned has come to be regarded as one of the first punk groups,
there’s not so much a leap from the MC5’s rock ‘n’
roll to the Damned’s punk as there is an entirely logical evolution,
stemming in large part from a shared distrust of “The System.”


And, while it’s sometimes said that old punks don’t die, they
just pick up an acoustic guitar and play country, that’s not always
the case. Sometimes old punks just keep on thrashing away on their
electrics. So it is that the MC5’s guitarist, Wayne Kramer, came to
team up with the Damned’s original guitar player, Brian James, for
what they envisioned as a collective where the two of them would bring the
songs to a rotating cast of players.


Under the name Mad for the Racket, they made their first attempt at this
with an album titled The Racketeers, recruiting Blondie’s Clem Burke
and the Police’s Stewart Copeland on drums and Guns N’
Roses’ bassist Duff McKagan for an album that feels very much like a
logical extension of Kramer and James’ work with the MC5 and the


It’s not pretty, that’s for sure; in fact, The Racketeers
sounds like exactly what it is: a couple of old punks and some friends
hammering out some angry demons in the garage (or whatever space they may
have put the songs together in).


There are plenty of sentiments along the lines of “I’ve been
chewed right down to the bone,” from “Chewed,” and
“It might be good and it might be bad / I don’t know,
we’ll find out,” from “All Fired Up,” demonstrating
both a determination to survive at all costs and a wilingness to continue
charging full-bore ahead into a world that seems forever on the edge of


As of now, though, this seems to have become a one-shot deal, as no
continuation has ever surfaced, which is too bad, because sometimes you just
need to know that those old punks are still giving it everything
they’ve got. V 

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