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The Big Bang! - Best of the MC5


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Album Review

A best-of for a group that only made three albums might be considered an inessential addition to their discography, particularly as all three of those albums remain available on CD. However, if you only want one MC5 album, this compilation makes more sense than if might appear at first. It draws judiciously from each of the three records; adds three somewhat rare tracks from pre-Kick Out the Jams singles; and finishes with a live 1972 cut, "Thunder Express," recorded for French TV and previously available on a Skydog CD. In somewhat of a surprise, it leans most heavily on Back in the U.S.A. (with eight tracks), and not so much on the album that most would view as their most significant effort, Kick Out the Jams (only four tracks). That decision works out better than you might think. The three tracks from 1967-1968 singles are fairly similar to the Kick Out the Jams vibe anyway, and if you don't own Kick Out the Jams already, you may well be ready for something a little cleaner-sounding and less assaultive by the time seven songs have gone by. It's unfortunate, nonetheless, that the two remaining pre-Kick Out the Jams tracks from non-LP 45s, "One of the Guys" and a different version of Kick Out the Jams' "Borderline," were not included. Kick Out the Jams itself would get most people's nod as the first and most essential MC5 purchase, but this is a close second, its value enhanced by detailed historical liner notes.


Formed: 1964 in Detroit, MI

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '00s, '10s

Alongside their Detroit-area brethren the Stooges, MC5 essentially laid the foundations for the emergence of punk; deafeningly loud and uncompromisingly intense, the group's politics were ultimately as crucial as their music, their revolutionary sloganeering and anti-establishment outrage crystallizing the counterculture movement at its most volatile and threatening. Under the guidance of svengali John Sinclair (the infamous founder of the radical White Panther Party), MC5 celebrated the holy trinity...
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