MC5 To Release First New Album In 53 Years

MC5 To Release First New Album In 53 Years

Led by founding member Wayne Kramer and recorded with iconic producer Bob Ezrin (Lou Reed, Alice Cooper, Kiss), the album features original MC5 drummer Dennis ‘Machine Gun’ Thompson on two tracks along with special guests including Slash, Tom Morello, William DuVall (Alice in Chains), Vernon Reid (Living Colour), Don Was, and Tim McIlrath (Rise Against).

Emerging from the gritty streets of Detroit in the mid-60s, MC5 revolutionized rock’n’roll with their blistering fusion of garage rock, blues, soul, free jazz, and proto-punk. Infamous for incendiary live performances and a radical left-wing stance, their status as pioneers of punk and protest rock has inspired many musicians like Ramones, The Clash, Rage Against The Machine, The White Stripes, Slash, and countless others and continues to shape the sound of punk and alternative rock for generations to come.

earMUSIC will release the first new music from MC5 in50+ years (following 1971’s ‘High Time’) with the album HEAVY LIFTING due October 18 – one day prior to the band’s induction into 2024’s Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame.

HEAVY LIFTING features guitar and vocals by founding MC5 member Wayne Kramer, who also co-wrote 12 of the album’s 13 songs together with Oakland singer/songwriter Brad Brooks. Prolific for five decades, Kramer was the last remaining active member of MC5. He passed away suddenly in February, followed by the death of drummer Dennis ‘Machine Gun’ Thompson in May. It is Thompson’s final studio recording.

The album’s debut track “Boys Who Play with Matches” is out now. 

In an interview with UNCUT in November 2023, Kramer discussed the album and said: “Live long and stay creative. This is my attitude. And this album continues from where ‘High Time’ left off. In that, I think it’s an artist’s responsibility to reflect the times they’re going through. And I think that we made an album that is in sync with where we’re at today and the challenges that we’re facing, and that carries a positive message.”

HEAVY LIFTING was recorded with iconic producer Bob Ezrin (Lou Reed, Alice Cooper, KISS) and features an all-star lineup of Kramer’s friends and musical colleagues including SlashTom MorelloWilliam DuVall (Alice in Chains), Vernon Reid (Living Colour), Don Was, and Tim McIlrath (Rise Against), allowing for a collaborative effort that bridges the gap between generations of musicians inspired by MC5’s fearless approach to music and activism. The breadth of MC5’s impact can be heard by all the album’s players, including Vicki Randle (Aretha Franklin), Stevie Salas (Parliament Funkadelic, Rod Stewart), Abe Laboriel Jr. (Paul McCartney), Winston Watson Jr. (Bob Dylan), and Joe Berry (M83). Far more than a trip down memory lane, HEAVY LIFTING is a resounding affirmation that the spirit of punk endures.

“It’s very heavy,” Ezrin reports on HEAVY LIFTING“It has a revolutionary message but also a good sense of humor. There’s a little bit of heavy metal. There’s quite a bit of funk. But it is a heavy record, and it’s a guitar record left, right and center. Just a wall of guitars most of the time, and mostly driven by Wayne and his ethos. It’s a snapshot of a guitar man at the height of his powers. We all feel a responsibility to make sure that his work is heard, and he is celebrated. We poured our hearts into the project.”

In addition to the 13-track album, a 2CD / 2LP bonus disc will be released including previously unreleased live recordings from the MC50 tour in 2018 celebrating the 50th anniversary of MC5’s revered 1969 debut album, Kick Out the Jams, which features classic anthems like “Kick Out the Jams” and “Ramblin’ Rose.” 

Alongside Kramer, the MC50 live band features Soundgarden guitarist Kim Thayil, Fugazi drummer Brendan Canty, Faith No More’s bassist Billy Gould, and frontman Marcus Durant (Zen Guerrilla) with a special guest appearance by Mark Arm (Mudhoney).

See the full track listing below. 

Heavy Lifting Tracklisting (CD/LP):
Heavy Lifting (feat. Tom Morello)
Barbarians At The Gate
Change, No Change
The Edge Of The Switchblade (feat. William Duvall & Slash)
Black Boots (feat. Tim McIIrath)
I Am The Fun (The Phoney)
Twenty-Five Miles
Because Of Your Car
Boys Who Play With Matches
Blind Eye (feat. Dennis Thompson)
Can’t Be Found (feat. Vernon Reid & Dennis Thompson)
Blessed Release
Hit It Hard (feat. Joe Berry)

Additional Tracklisting (2CD/2LP):
Ramblin’ Rose
Kick Out The Jams
Come Together
Motor City Is Burning
Gotta Keep Movin’
Shakin’ Street
Sister Anne

CD, Vinyl and digital download in addition to bonus 2CD and bonus 2LP

Find more information on MC5 online at
Website | Facebook | Instagram


Tom Morello
(Guitarist; Rage Against the Machine)

Brother Wayne Kramer was the best man I’ve ever known. He possessed a unique combination of deep wisdom and compassion, was charismatic and tenacious. His band, MC5, practically invented punk-rock music and was the only group not to back down, performing for protesters during the 1968 Democratic Convention. I’m pretty sure every album I’ve ever worked on had the MC5’s rawest and fastest track as a working title (for example, Sleep Now In The Fire),” Wayne faced trials related to drug use and time spent in prison (the Clash’s song Jail Guitar Doors was written about Wayne) and emerged as a transformed soul who continued to save countless lives through his tireless acts of service. He and his incredible wife Margaret founded @jailguitardoorsusa, which funds music programs in prisons as an effective method of rehabilitation. I played with Wayne in prison and saw him transform lives; it was simply incredible. Wayne had a tender heart but was also tough, he had earned his stripes in Detroit.

A couple of months ago (at 75 years old), Wayne kicked out an intruder threatening his family. And whenever there was a charity event, a union, or a human rights activist coming, Wayne always answered the call. ALWAYS. From our Frostbite And Freedom performances during the union uprising in Madison to Wayne Chainsaw Kramer wading through fire ants in the 9th district of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, reclaiming spaces for those affected. And then helping people quit drinking. And then former inmates find jobs. And still, at-risk youth start a career in music. Wayne has been a guardian angel for many of us. But above all, Wayne has been a great friend, a beautiful companion, and an older brother who helped me forgive myself for my mistakes, take risks with my music, and never be afraid to help those in need. The countless lives he touched, healed, helped, and saved will continue to carry forward his spirit and legacy. He was like a real-life Tom Joad. Every time and everywhere we play at full volume, Brother Wayne will be there with us”

Bob Ezrin
(producer; Alice Cooper, Deep Purple, MC5)

“Working with my dear friend Wayne Kramer, not only on the new MC5 album but also on several other projects over the years, has been a privilege and an honor.

When I came to Pontiac, MI from Toronto in 1970 to work with the Alice Cooper band, the MC5 were already legendary as a kick-ass punk-funk, hard rock band, as revolutionaries and as some of the very best players and performers in the region. And that was saying something because Detroit was exploding with talent at the time both in R&B and in Rock. They were already stars then – having had a hit single with Kick Out The Jams. They were headliners.

Wayne was a force of nature. A soul man in a rock’n’roll body, lean and slinky – a dancing, whirling profusion of hair and hipness who also happened to be one of the best guitar players any of us had ever heard.

I looked up to him. I wanted to be on the same bus he was on.

And decades later I finally got the chance to work with him, ironically on an Alice Cooper project. He had less hair, but no less soul or fire, and a special humanity about him; a warmth and generosity of spirit that made being in the room with him feel like going home.

We found we spoke one another’s language. And as I learned about his journey from those early days until the present, during which he developed a purpose and mission that embodied the finest essence of service to others, my respect for him grew and I fell in love with the man.

Brother Wayne is in my heart and will remain there forever. He was the best of us; pure of spirit and intention. He changed and saved lives with his devotion to justice and to raising up those of us who needed it the most – both through music and also through activism, guidance and mentorship.

This new MC5 album in my opinion is a masterful testament to Wayne’s brilliance as a writer, a player and an arranger. It’s a snapshot of a guitar man at the height of his powers. We poured our hearts into the project along with all the amazing musicians who contributed to it, especially Wayne’s writing partner and our lead singer, Brad Brooks. But also Don Was, Abe Laboriel Jr., Dennis Thompson, Tom Morello, Slash, William DuVall, Vicki Randle, Vernon Reid, Joe Berry and many others who brought their passion and shared sensibility to the project. Our mantra in the making of the record was “We Are All MC5”.

And now, with Wayne’s passing, I know we all feel a responsibility to make sure that his work is heard and he is celebrated.

As of now, I don’t know what the schedule is for release of the album. But it’s coming. Of that I am certain.“

Jack White
(The White Stripes)
We have lost one of Detroit’s greatest, Brother Wayne Kramer of the MC5. The first guitar solo I ever learned was Wayne’s from the 5’s song Looking At You. He was definitely part of the solution, as he changed rock and roll and paved the way in Detroit for the rest of us. Thank you Brother Wayne for everything you have done and will continue to do forever.”

(Guitarist; Guns N Roses)
My life was changed forever for the better when I met this man. And I will miss him immeasurably. The embodiment of everything that is Rock ‘n Roll. And truly a great human being. Rest in peace Wayne, you will live in our hearts forever.”

William DuVall
(Singer in Alice in Chains)
I struggled all evening to find the right words for the passing of @waynekramerofficial. He was a childhood idol who became a friend. As far as rock ‘n’ roll bands go, you can’t get cooler than MC5. On stage, Brother Wayne on lead guitar was a force of nature – solos that melted faces and splits à la James Brown, all in the incredible turbo-charged Detroit beast machine. Just scroll through, and you’ll 

Alice Cooper
Today we lost a long-time friend – and sometimes collaborator – Wayne Kramer of the MC5. RIP”

Living Colour Guitarist Vernon Reid
“Deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Wayne Kramer. Punk Rock PIONEER, inmate rights reformer, Author. human rights activist, Anti-violence advocate. Guitar BADASS, & Major Dude. Totally Real. Always looking forward.” 

Duff McKagan
(Guns N Roses)
“Rest in Peace Wayne Kramer. Just a supremely sweet man, and one hell of a rock and roll fire-starter. My story with WK started one day in the 90’s when we connected to do Mad For The Racket with Clem Burke, Brian James…and Wayne himself. I was in punk rock heaven around this bunch… and Wayne led us through the whole record with grace and HUMOR! He’s been a leader to me and for me…ever since. We will so miss you Wayne.”

Ted Nugent
A firebreathing stonecold MotorCity soulmusic roustabout force of nature. Im afraid very few truly know this greatmans spiritmusic authority. impossible to measure by mans scale. A soulbrother funkbrother guitarfire bloodbrother! The beast is dead long live The Beast. In the musical wind hes still alive!”