MC5: Are You Ready To Testify?

In a late-sixties detroit rock scene that gave rise to the uncompromising protopunk blast of Iggy and the Stooges, the Motor City 5 were the rulers of the roost, crafting a kind of soul music for disaffected white freaks. On Are You Ready to Testify?, the three mid-fidelity CDs present a trio of Michigan-area onstage performances that embody the manifesto of MC5 manager — and White Panther Party chairman — John Sinclair, namely "rock & roll, dope and fucking in the streets."

On Disc One, recorded in June 1968, the set list overlaps somewhat with the band's debut, 1969's live Kick Out the Jams. A James Brown medley, Little Richard's "Tutti Frutti" and Pharoah Sanders' "Upper Egypt" are subjected to Afro'd frontman Rob Tyner's vigorous vocal strut and the welt-raising guitar tandem of Wayne Kramer and Fred "Sonic" Smith, who drag the songs far from their R&B and free-jazz origins. Disc Two features the MC5 ushering in New Year's Day 1970 with raw servings of "Teenage Lust" and "Shakin' Street" — tracks soon to be spit-polished for the group's second LP and studio debut, Back in the USA. The capper on the four-song third disc, also from '68, is eleven minutes of their loud-jazz freakout "Black to Comm," the ultimate call to arms for the brothers and sisters and motherfuckers of the MC5's rock & roll revolution.