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Picks by Kevin McCarthy (KM), Sarah Mueller (SM) and Miss Suzanne Ramsey (MSR)

MC5
Big Bang!: The Best of the MC5 (Rhino)

If rock & roll is revolutionary in nature, then no band is more natural than the MC5. The only group to play the 1968 Chicago Riots, the MC5 launched its revolution with the battle cry "Kick out the jams, motherfucker!" from its first album (which was blackballed from many retail stores for its use of the colloquialism). Loud, uncompromising and visionary, the MC5 forged a ball-dropping style of rock that influenced other Motor City acts like the Stooges, the Alice Cooper Band and Grand Funk Railroad, and created a model for the future sound of punk. Their brief career produced three seminal rock albums that have been distilled into this collection along with three early, hard-to-find singles and one previously unreleased track. The Big Bang! is a good introduction to the band and worth it just for the thundering cover of Them's "I Can Only Give You Everything," but their three albums remain essential for purists. (KM)


Trinity
Shanty Town Determination

This compilation traces one of the premier Jamaican dancehall and reggae DJ's career through the '70s and '80s. The dub-drenched anthology is bass-heavy and best heard blunted. Ska beats infiltrate "Fire Down a Town," one of the more uptempo songs, but for the most part this is slow dancehall music. Socially minded lyrics ("Rasta Determination," "Peace Conference in Western Kingston") keep the vibe of love and unity flowing while you and your sweetheart shake your respective things. For folks who enjoy the sounds of old-school King Tubby and Lee "Scratch" Perry, Trinity's a welcome addition to the dub staples. (SM)


Cat Power
The Covers Record (Matador)

The Covers Record features Chan Marshall's seminarcotic renderings of rock classics, unknown bootlegs and traditional folksy tearjerkers. Marshall's raw, girlish, wounded voice injects forlorn personal demons into the Stones' "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction" and the Velvet Underground's "I Found a Reason." The austere beauty of Nina Simone's "Wild Is the Wind" makes Marshall sound like the sole survivor of a major catastrophe. Not since Joy Division's Ian Curtis has a voice sounded so raked over the coals. The Covers Record is not completely fragile and insecure--the uplifting autoharp on "Sea of Love" radiates optimism. Still, a part of me never wants Marshall to see the world through rose-colored glasses so I can continue to relish in her such naked, dog-eared beauty. (MSR)


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From the April 17, 2000 issue of the Metropolitan.

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