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Up – Rising

Applebush/Easy Action

Up - RisingBack in the late 60s, Up were part of the same fired-up Detroit scene that gave us the MC5 and the Stooges but have been largely forgotten over the years. This is perhaps understandable as their only releases at the time were one and a half 7” singles – 1968’s “Just Like an Aborigine/Hassan I Sabbah” and “Free John Now,” which appeared on a split release with Allen Ginsburg in 1971 as part of the campaign to free White Panther leader John Sinclair.

For this beautifully presented retrospective, the people at Applebush/Easy Action have done a great job once more. The packaging takes the same long-box format as their recent set with extensive notes and a collection of beautiful miniature poster reproductions. Not only have they managed to unearth enough material to flesh out the existing three tracks to a full 79 minute, 19 track CD, but also rare footage of the group in action which appears on an additional DVD.

Musically and politically, the group were closer to the MC5 than The Stooges, as might be expected from the Sinclair connection, but surprisingly this collection shows them to have actually been virtually the equals of the more famous five. The studio tracks rock out with an impressive no-frills sense of purpose that actually eclipses Back in the USA, and while the live tracks don’t quite reach Kick Out the Jams territory, they certainly reveal a formidable and thrilling live group who kicked ass and burned with righteous revolutionary fervour. Perhaps it was a shortage of material that prevented the group from enjoying greater success, the originals here being duplicated in various forms – four versions of the ultra-catchy single “Just Like an Aborigine” and three of “Free John Now!” These are supplemented by high energy covers of “C’mon and Swim, Come On” and “Train Kept a Rollin’,” the latter appearing twice, as befits probably the only song ever written that is impossible to do a bad version of. Other originals include “Sisters, Sisters (Sisters Rising),” “Never Say Die” and “Free Marijuana,” which give some indication as to where the group’s collective head was at. Allen Ginsberg’s side of the split single “Prayer for John Sinclair” also appears, on which the legendary poet ‘sings’ such lines as “this case articulates the bankruptcy of law and order” over his own pump organ accompaniment.

Great though the CD is, the real gem here comes in the shape of the DVD, which the label underplays as merely a bonus disc of rare footage. The disc comprises 19 minutes of 8mm film footage of an open-air festival/happening in the Detroit/Ann Arbor area, (kind of) synched to some of the studio recordings. It provides a unique snapshot of a time and place that captures the zeitgeist more charmingly than any professional documentary team ever could and is worth the cost of the package alone. I’ve watched the DVD through at least ten times already… it’s no mere ‘bonus’. Rising is another essential release from Applebush, the only danger being that you may find yourself singing “Just Like an Aborigine” out loud as you walk down the road… which can be embarrassing!

-Alan Holmes-

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