WAYNE KRAMER
Live Like A Mother...
Epitaph Records
Nick’s Upstairs, Philadelphia, PA


Wayne Kramer loves to play, anywhere, any size and to anybody. It doesn’t matter – the man loves to rock! “I love the work I do and the people I do it with,” radiates Kramer minutes before taking the stage in Philly. “I put all the energy I have into making music that’s fulfilling to me. I want to be in love with the work I do.” Kramer first fell in love with music in 1965 as the guitarist for the MC5. Night after night he slammed it out in the Detroit dives for pennies and the shear thrill of the guitar that vibrated between his legs. The group’s repertoire contained elements of R&B, soul and avant garde jazz, as well as a series of powerful houserockin’ originals. The ‘Five’ locked horns with local officials when their street politics, proselytized at every show by vocalist Rob Tyner. ruffled more than a few feathers. The quintets extraordinary sound, although loud, was never reckless and after disbanding in 1972, joined the history books as one of rock’s most uncompromising and exciting underground acts.

Kramer kick started his comeback in 1995 with a succession of grinders hammered out on the Epitaph label (The Hard Stuff, 1995, Dangerous Madness, 1996 and Citizen Wayne, 1997). A folk hero to the underground/alternative scene the guitarist has been popularized again with his brash presentation and stylized vocals/lyrics. “The guys I always have idealized are beatnik poets and dope-smoking jazz musicians,” reflects Kramer with a smile. “Now I get to be that – an aging hipster.”

That said, Kramer bounded on the stage and launch into a soundtrack that reflects his current ‘live’ recording, Live Like A Motherfucker. Unadulterated volume, both live and on disc, LLMF is pure Kramer. The two converge capturing Kramer as a living, breathing warrior of rock. Germinating his fitful wails is Stranger In The House, Something Broken In The Promised Land, Down On The Ground and Junkie Romance, a collection of leading numbers off his past recordings.

Backing Kramer is a full-throttle, grade ‘A’ punk rock band seen opening the show an hour earlier. These guys are died-in-the-wool Kramer fans and punctuate Kramer’s visceral attack with the force of a steamed up locomotive. “I’ve got a lot of good help,” maintains Kramer after his scorching 90-minute set. “It makes my job easy.”

Highlighting a pivotal night of guts-on-the-rug rock we read, in Kramer’s own words, about live recording taken from his LLMF liner notes: “I love live records. I made one once before. The best capture a moment in time of original joy and pure energy. Some of the most important music of my life was recorded live. James Brown Live At The Apollo, Coltrane Live At Birdland...Otis Redding Live In Europe, The Who Live At Leeds...and the aforementioned MC5. In fact all jazz and early rock and roll records were recorded ‘live’ in the studio. Live is where the spirit lives. So when it came time to think about my next record, the possibility of doing a live record just seemed natural. Live recording (and live performing) is like flying without a net; that instant when the trapeze artist may or may not reach the bar in mid air. That’s what I’m striving for.”

Website: Wayne Kramer