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50 Best Miami Bands of All Time: From 5 to 1

Can you hear that throbbing beat?

It's just the sound of Crossfade finally reaching a poundingly hot Latin-pop climax after two weeks of counting down the raddest bassers, freestyle stars, rappers, punks, rockers, and noiseniks in our subtropical city's music history.

To loosely quote Gloria Estefan and the Miami Sound Machine: "Come on, shake that body, baby. Do the conga. We know you can't control yourself any longer."

So check the cut for the top five in our epic list of the 50 Best Miami Bands of All Time.

5. KC and the Sunshine Band

Somewhere in the Himalayas, there's a young Tibetan kid in a modest shack drinking Coca-Cola, looking at his Elvis poster, and dancing his ass off to a KC and the Sunshine Band record -- probably "Shake Your Booty." In late 1973, this now-classic disco crew was born when studio intern Harry Wayne Casey cut some after-hours demos at TK Records' headquarters in Hialeah. The boss -- local music legend Henry Stone -- liked them so much that he invested in the band and some hi-fi vinyl. And within two years, every club rat from John Travolta to Miami's own disco mamas were shaking booty to KC's tunes while screaming, "That's the way I like it!" -- Jacob Katel

4. Sam & Dave

Before signing to Atlantic Records and working with the famous Stax Records production team of Isaac Hayes and David Porter, Sam & Dave ("Soul Man," "Hold On, I'm Coming") were under a gun-barrel management contract with John Lomelo of the King of Hearts club in Liberty City. These Miami boys, now known worldwide for their explosive live show, cut their teeth on the talent-show circuit through Overtown, Coconut Grove, and all of black Miami, where they sang their hearts out for little more than craps money and new shoes. But one day, TK Records label honcho Henry Stone took Atlantic Records founder Ahmet Ertegun to see Sam & Dave work a nightclub, and the rest is music history. -- Jacob Katel

 

3. Harry Pussy

Twenty years since it started shrieking and more than a decade after going silent, Harry Pussy is finally getting the credit it deserves. Thanks in no small part to the popular resurgence of axe man Bill Orcutt's solo career as an acoustic deconstructionist, the Pussy -- once a cult phenomenon -- is becoming increasingly recognized as one of American noise-rock's most important bands. Of course, no vocalist has yet to re-create Adris Hoyos's deranged yelping or her runaway-train drumming style. And despite Orcutt's ascetic dedication to four-strings, comparing his circuitous arrangements to the compositions of his sonic descendants would be like trying to draw parallels between basic addition and differential calculus. -- Matt Preira

2. Miami Sound Machine

Laugh all you want, but so many of our city's contemporary groups, from Afrobeta to Otto Von Schirach to Avenue D, owe Gloria and Emilio Estefan's Miami Sound Machine an enormous debt. It would take eight studio albums for this Latin-pop powerhouse to earn mainstream success with 1984's Eyes of Innocence, the group's first English-language album. But "Dr. Beat" was only the beginning of a string of massively popular Sound Machine singles, including "Conga" and "Rhythm Is Gonna Get You." Still, there's just something about the group's original breakthrough single and its sugary hook, "Doc-doc-doc-doc, Dr. Beat/Won't you help me, Dr. Beat?" It's a plea for a cure to dance fever that would later be mimicked by everyone from Gwen Stefani to Kylie Minogue. -- Jose D. Duran

1. 2 Live Crew

Ain't nobody in the history of Dade County ever been nastier, popped more pussy, or repped harder for First Amendment rights than 2 Live Crew. And the whole gloriously horny tale began in late 1985, when Miami party promoter and label boss Luther "Uncle Luke" Campbell signed the Crew's Cali founders Mr. Mixx and Fresh Kid Ice, brought them to the 305, assumed essential hype-man duties, and added superfilthy homeboy Brother Marquis to the fold. Four years and two slabs later, Luke, Mixx, Kid, and Marquis unleashed their definitively smutty masterpiece, As Nasty As They Wanna Be. It landed them on the Broward County Sheriff's obscenity shit list. It earned them heat from Tipper Gore and the D.C. censors. It got them Banned in the U.S.A. But eventually, it took them to the Eleventh Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals, where 2 Live Crew finally defeated the prudes and the pigs. An immortal victory for the freaks. Throw the D! -- S. Pajot

Check out the other installments of Crossfade's 50 Best Miami Bands of All Time:

-From 50 to 46: Scraping Teeth, Frank Williams & The Rocketeers, Iko Iko, ANR, Miami Bass Warriors

-From 45 to 41: Nuclear Valdez, The Goods, Locos Por Juana, Cynic, Avenue D

-From 40 to 36: The Agency, Pygmy, Suenalo, Triple C's, The Crumbs

-From 35 to 31: Quit, Young and Restless, The Reactions, Afrobeta, Cavity

-From 30 to 26: Holy Terrors, Clay D & The Get Funky Crew, Laundry Room Squelchers, ¡Mayday!, Poison the Well

-From 25 to 21: Critical Mass, Phoenicia, The Dogs, Chickenhead, Floor

-From 20 to 16: Buckwheat Boyz, The Mavericks, Against All Authority, T-Connection, The Eat

-From 15 to 11: Jacuzzi Boys, Gucci Crew II, Charlie Pickett and The Eggs, L'Trimm, To Live and Shave in L.A.

-From 10 to 6: Murk, NRBQ, Exposé, Poison Clan, Load

-From 5 to 1: KC and the Sunshine Band, Sam & Dave, Harry Pussy, Miami Sound Machine, 2 Live Crew

Follow Crossfade on Facebook and Twitter @Crossfade_SFL.


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