Wednesday, July 3, 2002

Return Of Citizen Wayne

Posted By on Wed, Jul 3, 2002 at 12:00 AM

Known the world over for his seditious and groundbreaking contributions as chief flamethrower of the incendiary MC5, brother Wayne Kramer has steadily evolved into one of the most important and underrated lyricists and songwriters ever to draw a breath — this after a prolonged and classic battle back from the bottom. Few rock ’n’ roll comebacks ever approach, much less exceed, the creative content of an artist’s initial impact — but here’s a man who has, in a profound way, made the second act count.

Traces of the MC5 are ubiquitous in all things garageland these days, from the Vines to the Hives. Said tips of the hat, however, are generally culled from the most superficial elements of the MC5: its libidinous machismo, frizzy hair-don’ts and deedle-deedle-deedle jazz-metal jack-offs. So why is this second solo album reissue more essential than any MC5-derivative record currently getting pushed? The songs.

Some will rattle on for another hundred years about Kramer’s Hendrix-like gift for painting songs with both fluttery watercolors and violent, cobalt-acrylic smears of Jackson Pollock frenzy and garish splatter on the ’lectric guitar. His real magic is how vividly he puts across his vocals — casually breathing compassion, humor and gut-wrenching honesty into his stories.

The autobiographical “No Easy Way Out” and the poignant instrumental, “A Farewell To Whiskey,” are both tinged with a grace born of experience. Songs such as “Back When Dogs Could Talk,” “Revolution In Apt. 29,” “Snatched Defeat” and “Count Time” all take you on an “auto-mythological” grainy trip back through Kramer’s glory days with the exalted Motor City Five and the band’s impassioned calls for “rock ’n’ roll, dope and fucking in the streets.” They continue through his ill-fated stint alongside a doomed Johnny Thunders in Gang War, his jail time for selling dope to the feds, and his slow crawl back from social and self-induced chemical oblivion.

The Return Of Citizen Wayne — Kramer’s Purple Rain — is an extremely visual, sonic/cinematic demolition joyride through an authentically rebellious era many of us MTV babies can’t rightly imagine. It’s real soul music for burnouts and survivors and former hippie activists and shit workers and slaves: all the good people who fell for the ruse and through the cracks of the American dream. And this remastered reissue (on Kramer’s own Muscletone label) is enhanced with three bonus audio/video tracks “Cheques From Chairman Mao,” “Back When Dogs Could Talk” (Chunky Style Re-Mix) and “No Easy Way Out” (Radio Edit). It also features the short film Citizen Wayne, and includes a deluxe booklet with liner notes and lyrics.

Check out The Racketeers by Mad For The Racket, his all-star side project with members of Blondie, the Police, Guns N’ Roses and the Damned. While you’re at it, visit

Wayne Kramer will perform Saturday, July 6 at the Magic Stick, 4120 Woodward Ave., Detroit; call 313-833-9700 for information.

E-mail Dimitri Monroe at


We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Detroit Metro Times. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Detroit Metro Times, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at

Support Local Journalism.
Join the Detroit Metro Times Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.

Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.

Join the Metro Times Press Club for as little as $5 a month.

More by Dimitri Monroe

Most Popular

Read the Digital Print Issue

July 28, 2021

View more issues


Never miss a beat

Sign Up Now

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.

Best Things to Do In Detroit

© 2021 Detroit Metro Times - Contact Us

Website powered by Foundation