The third volume of Soul Jazz Records' excellent Punk 45 compilation series focuses on some of the earliest front-runners of the punk movement, collecting 21 tracks of raw, weird, and sometimes psychedelic proto-punk recorded between 1969 and 1976, in some cases years before the late-'70s rise of punk. The collection goes as far back as the late-'60s composition "(I Wanna Love You Like A) Mad Dog" by junk instrument-implementing psych act Stavely Makepeace, but the true roots of punk's experimental, feral, and deeply outsider perspectives are best explored on tracks recorded a few years later by Detroit Afro-punkers Death, Ohio urchins Electric Eels, dark synth punk/proto-industrial acts like Cabaret Voltaire, and a host of other bands that were getting into vile, unhinged territory long before the Sex Pistols were even a twinkle in Malcolm McLaren's eye. Crime's gloriously loose "Hot Wire My Heart" (later covered by Sonic Youth on their Sister album) makes an appearance, as does Joe Strummer's pre-Clash outfit the 101'ers, a screaming track from Oklahoma single album freak rockers Debris, and the sci-fi meets lo-fi mess of Simply Saucer, sounding like Lou Reed on a heavy bender trying to figure out how to operate a synthesizer. After rock & roll's early days burned to a close and before the loud, fast, snotty upstarts of 1977 punk started their racket, there was a long stretch of lawless middle ground. This volume of Punk 45 does an amazing job corralling some of the various wild sounds from that nebulous time, anchoring the untameable numerous directions of its playlist with a finely considered flow and top-notch curation.
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AllMusic Review by Fred Thomas