The MC5 were active on the Michigan scene for a few years prior to their debut album in 1968, but that period was pretty scantily documented by recordings, except for a few local indie singles that were reissued on Babes in Arms. This collection of 1965-1966 live, studio, and rehearsal tracks in variable fidelity does a good deal to fill in that gap, and also expose the garage, British Invasion, and soul roots of the band, which had gotten somewhat obscured by the time of the more metallic Kick Out the Jams. "I Just Don't Know," "One of the Guys," and "I Can Only Give You Everything" sound like the same tracks used on pre-Kick Out the Jams singles. The first two of these especially remain essential garage recordings that fall just shy of the hard rock outrage the group was into by 1968. There's also a live "Looking at You" (which would be done by the group in the studio on an early single) that has a more R&B/garage feel than the studio version, especially with the presence of Rob Tyner's harmonica. Some of these are no more than fragments, and the covers of blues and soul standards like "I'm a Man," James Brown's "I Don't Mind," and "Baby Please Don't Go" are more of historical value than landmark importance, not matching the covers of these by the Yardbirds, Them, and the Who. Still, a worthy release, and only the absence of the "Looking at You"/"Borderline" single keeps this from being a definitive collection of pre-Kick Out the Jams stuff. Detailed liner notes and track descriptions are provided by Wayne Kramer.
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AllMusic Review by Richie Unterberger