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11 Jun 2016

The Up “Killer UP!” 1969-72 recordings US proto punk

The UP Bob Rasmussen, Scott Bailey, Frank Bach, and Gary Rasmussen, in the basement of 1520 Hill Street

The Up “Killer UP!” 1969-72 recordings US proto punk.

full CD

Ann Arbor, Michigan-based proto-punks the Up were formed in the spring of 1967 by vocalist Franklin Bach, then the stage manager and announcer at Detroit’s famed Grande Ballroom. Rounded out by guitarist Bob Rasmussen, bassist Gary Rasmussen and drummer Vic Peraino (soon replaced by Scott Bailey), the group was managed by David Sinclair, the brother of local White Panther Party leader John Sinclair, and as such their history became inextricably linked with that of local revolutionary rockers the MC5, with the two bands even living together at the same Ann Arbor commune. The Up regularly opened for the MC5 as well, and were the opening act at the legendary September 1968 show at the Union Ballroom that so impressed Elektra Records president Jac Holzman that he offered a contract not only to the Five but also the second act on the bill, the Stooges; as both groups went on to national notoriety, the Up remained mired on the regional circuit, becoming the primary musical outlet for the White Panthers’ propaganda after the MC5 broke away from the party. Finally, in 1970 the Up recorded their debut single “Just Like an Aborigine,” a blistering cut similar in sound and spirit to the punk records which emerged from Britain at the end of the decade; a second single, “Free John Now!” – a rallying cry in honor of the imprisoned Sinclair – followed a year later. Although the group disbanded in 1973 – Gary Rasmussen later resurfaced in Sonic’s Rendezvous Band – they left behind enough material for a 1995 retrospective LP, Killer Up! ..

The Up (often styled as The UP) was an American rock band formed in Detroit, Michigan in early 1967. Along with fellow proto-punk bands the MC5 and The Stooges, The Up served as a “house band” for the Grande Ballroom in Detroit.

The original band line-up consisted of vocalist Frank Bach, guitarist Bob Rasmussen, bassist Gary Rasmussen, and drummer Vic Peraino. The band was closely related to the MC5, as both bands’ members lived in White Panther Party founder John Sinclair’s commune. In May 1968, Sinclair moved the commune to Ann Arbor, Michigan and both bands followed. The Up served as the opening act for the MC5 during a September 1968 show at the University of Michigan’s Union Ballroom in Ann Arbor. This show was attended by Elektra Records president Jac Holzman; Holzman was impressed with both the MC5 and The Stooges (who were the concert’s second act) and offered both bands contracts. The Up did not get signed to Elektra and unlike the MC5 and The Stooges, the band never received a major record label contract.

The Up continued to play gigs at the Grande Ballroom and other local venues. In 1969, the MC5 ended their association with John Sinclair and the White Panther Party; The Up took the place of the MC5 as the main musical outlet of the party’s propaganda. The Up disbanded in 1973 and faded further into obscurity. In 1975, the band’s bassist Gary Rasmussen later joined Sonic’s Rendezvous Band, a Detroit rock scene supergroup featuring former members of the MC5, The Stooges, The Up and The Rationals.

In 1995, a retrospective album titled Killer Up! was released containing all of The Up’s song recordings. The album contains all of the band’s singles, songs from a recording session at Head Sound Studios in Ypsilanti, Michigan and several live tracks recorded at the Agora Ballroom in Columbus, Ohio in 1972. John Sinclair states in the album’s liner notes that, “It’s common to name the MC5 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.”.. ….

There’s a lot to say about rock and roll from Detroit. Generally, the line goes something like, that’s where proto-punk hails. No, that doesn’t seem off base. And considering that John Cale produced the Stooges disc and the MC5 were…well, the MC5 those that dispute the fact are gonna be fighting an up hill battle. And while all of that seems only vaguely important at this late date, there were a huge clutch of groups performing in and around Detroit  and Ann Arbor. SRC was kicking around, Frijid Pink and Bob Seger were on the scene, but the group that receives the shaken heads (most of the time) regarding its missed opportunity at fame is the UP.

At one time sharing a living space with the MC5, the UP were as much an arm of the White Panther Party as its more famous flat mates. And with the Five eventually heading off to greener pastures, the UP were tapped by John Sinclair to carry on that freeq banner.

Forming during ’67 or so, the UP wouldn’t actually release a single until 1970. The landscape of American music over that three year period under went a tremendous shift. There was still a buncha fey folksy stuff kicking around, but bands like Blue Cheer and Detroit’s the Stooges were either on the way out or just not at the height of their powers any longer.

So along come these politicos, wielding a guitar player - Bob Rasmussen - that clearly had the aggressive tone down,   just not the chops to always come up with the most enticing hooks. Arguably the group’s best known song, “Just Like an Aborigine,” sounds like nothing more than a buncha stoned, red book toting lefties raving up a few chords.

Those few chords, though, ended up being the right ones on other tracks collected on the band’s anthology Killer UP. “Together,” as one should expect is a political polemic that finds Frank Bach, the group’s singer, speaking on nothing but revolutionary tactics and how unity is indispensible. The mix isn’t all that flattering here with the guitar and drums taking up more space than the vocals ever could. But in that, there’s a bit of punk flair that isn’t present all over the rest of the disc.

The ‘60s punk and sludge of “I Don’t Need You” comes off similarly to “Together” apart from the fact that there’s a bit more Blue Cheer inherent on this track. It’s not all drum fills and guitar solos, but both are amply represented.

Patches of Killer UP deliver what Detroit exploito fans are looking for, but it’s pretty spotty overall. And considering the fact that there were more bands in the Detroit/Ann Arbor scene than one could readily recollect – not to mention all of the soul stuff from the same period – the UP’s anthology is only for folks that want or need to fully conceive of the scene that could be considered the jumping off point for punk. It’s an historical nugget, to be sure, just not one that everyone needs to search out……



“Just Like An Aborigine” / “Hassan I Sabbah” (1970) (Sundance 22190)
“Free John Now!” / “Prayer For John Sinclair” (1971) (Rainbow 22191)


Killer Up! (1995) (Total Energy NER 3002)

“Just Like An Aborigine”
Let ‘Em Have It! Vol. 1
Michigan Mixture, Vol. 1

“Hassan I Sabbah”
Michigan Mixture, Vol. 1

1 –Up (5) Just Like An Aborigine (Mix 1) 4:09 
2 –Up (5) Do The Sun Dance 3:34 
3 –Up (5) Free John Now (Mix 3) 4:03 
4 –Up (5) Come On 
Written-By – Earl King 
5 –Up (5) C'mon And Swim 
Written-By – S. Stewart*, T. Coman* 
6 –Up (5) Hassan I Sabbah 4:02 
7 –Up (5) Sisters, Sisters (Sisters Rising) 2:50 
8 –Up (5) Together 4:23 
9 –Up (5) Train Kept A Rollin' 
Written-By – T. Bradshaw* 
10 –Up (5) Just Like An Aborigine (Mix 2) 4:10 
11 –Up (5) I Don't Need You 2:29 
12 –Up (5) Never Say Die 4:03 
13 –Up (5) Free John Now (Mix 1) 4:08 
Bonus Cut 
14 –Allen Ginsberg Prayer For John Sinclair 
Guitar – Steven Taylor 
Written-By, Recorded By, Read By [Recitation], Harmonium – Allen Ginsberg

johnkatsmc5, welcome music..





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