"The Big Bang - Best of the MC5" (Rhino; 2000)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

Inevitably, when you read an article or hear a discussion about the origins of hard rock and heavy metal, you hear names like Jimi Hendrix, Deep Purple, Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin ... and MC5.

Everyone knows the first four bands, but MC5 don't have the same following. They're legends, make no mistake about that - but they're not as wildly successful as the others.

Regardless, after one listen to "The Big Bang," it should become obvious to anyone that MC5  readily deserve to be recognized amongst the other founders of our favorite type of rock'n'roll.

"The Big Bang" is loaded with familiar chords and riffs, rhythms and tempos and guitars and drums. In fact, Song 8, "Tonight," sounds as though it could have come off KISS' "Love Gun" CD (but, of course, it was written and recorded five years before the make-up monsters released their first album.) And sometimes, the MC5 comes so close to the sound of Starz (another band that appeared later in the 70s) that it's almost uncanny.

The music of MC5 is loud, raucous rock'n'roll. It's party anthem music that has been emulated ever since MC5 hit the scene in the late 60s. Attentive listeners will hear traces of their favorite hard music throughout this CD, proving that the roots of MC5 reach out even unto the most popular music of today.

One of the highlights here is the "uncensored" live version of "Kick Out the Jams," recorded live at Russ Gibb's Grande Ballroom in 1968. "Kick Out the Jams" has become a radio favorite across the nation for starting the weekend and it's amazing how fresh it is here, even in a recording that's over 30 years old.

Of course, due to the recording equipment of the era, the music can't help but sound a little dated. But, then, have you listened to the first Black Sabbath album lately? Regardless, "The Big Bang" is a very entertaining CD that offers a bit of a history lesson at the same time.

MC5 is: Rob Tyner - lead vocals, harmonica, conga, maracas; Wayne Kramer - guitar, piano, bass, vocals; Fred "Sonic" Smith - guitar, organ, harmonica, vocals; Michael Davis - bass, vocals; Dennis Thompson - drums, percussion, tambourine, vocals.

Rating Guide:

A classic. This record will kick your ass.

Killer. Not a classic but it will rock your world.

So-so. You've heard better.

Pretty bad. Might make a nice coaster.

Self explanatory. Just the sight of the cover makes you wanna hurl.


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Copyright 2000 by R. Scott Bolton. All rights reserved.