|Back in the USA|
|Studio album by|
|Released||January 15, 1970|
|Recorded||March-October, 1969 (except "Looking At You": December 1968)|
|Studio||GM Studios, East Detroit, United States|
|Genre||Hard rock, proto-punk, rock and roll|
The central focus of the album is the band's movement away from the raw, thrashy sound pioneered and captured on their first release, the live album Kick Out the Jams (1969). This was due in part to producer Jon Landau's distaste for the rough psychedelic rock movement, and his adoration for the straightforward rock and roll of the 1950s.
Landau, who originally wrote for Rolling Stone magazine, was looking to get more involved in actual music production. Becoming close with Atlantic Records executive Jerry Wexler was his chance and led Landau to the politically radical MC5, who had just been picked up by Atlantic after being dropped from Elektra Records in 1969 - the Kinney National Company (later known as Time Warner), parent of Atlantic, acquired Elektra in the same year of this album's release; both labels are now part of the Warner Music Group (now a separate company from TW), through the Atlantic Records Group.
The opening track is a cover of the classic hit "Tutti Frutti" by Little Richard. "Let Me Try" is a ballad. "The American Ruse" attacks what the Detroit quintet saw as the hypocritical idea of freedom espoused by the US government, and "The Human Being Lawnmower" expresses opposition to the US involvement in the Vietnam War. The last song on the album, which is the title track, is a cover of Chuck Berry's 1959 single "Back in the U.S.A."
|Christgau's Record Guide||A-|
|The Rolling Stone Album Guide|||
Reviewing Back in the USA for Rolling Stone in 1970, Greil Marcus admired the album's "attempt to define themes and problems and an offering of political, social, and emotional solutions", but found that "the music, the sound, and in the end the care with which these themes have been shaped drags it down, save for two or three fine numbers that deserve to be played on every jukebox in the land". Though the album was viewed as a flop early on by most fans, and lacked the commercial success of their previous release, it would later be considered highly important due to the album's absolute projection of MC5's core sound and earliest influences.
"In a time of terrible manufactured music, Back in the USA was rock 'n' roll, untreated... I used to sit and listen to that album for hours: listen to it through, then put it straight back on again. It was the kind of album you could do that with, particularly the odd songs like 'Human Being Lawnmower'. It was impossible to see the structure of that song for a while. You'd think, 'Fuck it, what's going on there?' Then you'd sit and work it out... My favourite track off that MC5 album would have to be Chuck Berry's 'Back in the U.S.A.'." - Lemmy, Motörhead
All tracks are written by MC5, except as noted.
|1.||"Tutti Frutti"||Dorothy LaBostrie, Joe Lubin, Richard Penniman||1:30|
|4.||"Let Me Try"||4:16|
|5.||"Looking at You"||3:03|
|2.||"Call Me Animal"||2:06|
|3.||"The American Ruse"||2:31|
|5.||"The Human Being Lawnmower"||2:24|
|6.||"Back in the U.S.A."||Chuck Berry||2:26|