The house band of revolution rock, the forebears of the entire punk movement… The Detroit ramalama garage rock’n’roll five-piece went further than any of their countercultural rivals, and the best MC5 songs still have the power to start riots. To paraphrase the immortal words of the group’s “spiritual advisor”, Brother JC Crawford, we give you a testimonial – the MC5!
10: I Just Don’t Know (1969)
MC5’s early garage band days are firmly exposed on this slice of snarling 60s proto-punk. A B-side released in 1969, three years after it was recorded, the song’s overlooked position in the band’s legacy belies its full-to-the-brim rock’n’roll bravado. Based around a Bo Diddley rhythm being destroyed by everything around it, the one-two power-chord punches from guitarists Wayne Kramer and Fred “Sonic” Smith are solely designed to knock you off your feet. Inspired by the band’s British Invasion idols John Lennon and Pete Townshend, the experimental use of feedback is pretty early for a 1966 recording. Not on any studio album, I Just Don’t Know earns its place among the best MC5 songs as a highlight of the much-revered Babes In Arms rarities compilation.