Kick Out the Jams!

A flood of seriously good new roots CDs

In the Reissues Dept., heroic Rhino Records comes through once more with the belated but welcome anthology The Big Bang! Best of the MC5. Dismissed in their day (late '60s/ early '70s) as talentless, barbarous hacks (the MC5 didn't sing about flowers and love beads; they sang about overthrowing the government and having animalistic sex), they're now hailed as the First True Punk Band. That assertion may be a stretch but is not wholly without merit: terroristically loud, energetic and primitive, they were the product of the same Detroit scene that spawned Mitch Ryder & the Detroit Wheels, Iggy & the Stooges and the Amboy Dukes. And they were best-known not for a song but rather for a song intro, in which lead vocalist Rob Tyner screamed, "Right now it's time to . . . KICK OUT THE JAMS, MOTHERFUCKERS!!!" And they were managed by John Sinclair, leader of the White Panther Party—serious street cred, indeed. Their music was an appalling bomb of furious white noise; one has not truly banged one's head until one's head has been banged to the MC5. It's amazing how fresh, vital and powerful this music remains 30-some-odd years after its release.

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