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Babes In Arms

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Album Review

Wayne Kramer assembled this collection of 15 rare MC5 tracks, and while trying to cover the career of a band who helped give birth to punk rock AND made it onto Spiro Agnew's enemies list might seem like a near-impossible task in less than an hour, Babes in Arms does a pretty respectable job of capturing what the MC5 were all about in one convenient package. Most of the cuts on Babes in Arms are alternate versions of songs from the band's three studio albums, but while the most of the tracks appear in variant mixes or longer edits, the differences are minimal enough that they can pass for the originals in a pinch (one crucial exception: a great acoustic version of Fred "Sonic" Smith's "Shakin' Street"), making Babes in Arms a solid "Best of the MC5" collection. Even more importantly, the set also includes several excellent and hard to find early single sides, including the amusing garage-protest nugget "One of the Guys" and a primal, in-the-red rave-up on "Looking at You" that leaves the version on Back in the U.S.A. in the dust. The one previously unreleased song, "Gold," is an unfocused jam that doesn't really go anywhere, and the sound quality of the source materials isn't all that hot (especially on the CD version), but otherwise Babes in Arms is a howling, furious blast of what made the MC5 one of the finest (and most dangerous) American rock bands of the 1960s. Crank it up loud — the guys would want it that way.


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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