Release Date: Apr 22, 2014
Record label: Drag City
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Detroit Rock, Proto-Punk
Until 2009, theirs looked like it would be the greatest rock ‘n’ roll story never told. It has everything; family, religion, race and even a deathbed prophecy. I’m referring, of course, to the story of Death. Formed by three brothers in Detroit in the early ‘70s, Death was an all black proto-punk band who, on merit, deserved a place in the cannon next to fellow Michiganders the Stooges and the MC5 but who, due to personal stubbornness and industry shortsightedness, were only “discovered” in 2009.
The work of Detroit power trio Death, comprised of brothers Dannis, David, and Bobby Hackney came to light en masse in 2009 when Drag City issued their 1974 recording sessions at the Motor City's famed United Sound studio. Exceedingly well-written, arranged, and ferociously performed, their songs provided stunning evidence of an all but unknown group of hard rock masters whose group identity was distinct from its better-known peers. The widely acclaimed seven-track record was followed by Spiritual Mental Physical in 2011, a collection of demos and rehearsal tapes cut before those sessions that were never intended for release.
Death, it seems is not the end. Indeed, this visionary Detroit band picked their name and tried to focus on the positive connotations of the word. Not for them the ideas of finality; instead they pushed for new starts, innovation and the green shoots of life in the desolation of the past. Even the (actual) death of guitarist David Hackney in 2000 from lung cancer didn’t prevent the band from reforming and playing live.
When Death’s meager, forgotten discography from the 70s began to be unearthed in 2009, it made sense to peg the group as proto-punk. In fact, the first Death collection, …For the Whole World to See, went out of its way to reinforce this image. Here were a trio of African-American brothers from Detroit who—before the Ramones had released a record—laid down a lean, ferocious form of rock'n'roll.