Release Date: Jan 25, 2011
Record label: Drag City
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Detroit Rock, Proto-Punk
When Death’s long-delayed debut album surfaced in 2009, some 35 years after it was recorded, the punk rock clock was turned back. In 1974, there was no Ramones record, even less anything by Black Flag or the Sex Pistols. But in Detroit, the Hackney brothers laid down what became ...For The Whole World to See, a short, thrashy blast of garage adrenaline born from the rubble of The Stooges’ Raw Power, but far scrappier.
When Drag City issued power trio Death's unissued 1973 Detroit singles in 2009 as For the Whole World to See, they unearthed classic underground Detroit rock. Those tracks were finished but raw, exceedingly well written and ferociously performed by the Hackney brothers: guitarist David, bassist Bobby, and drummer Dannis. The ten cuts on Spiritual Mental Physical were recorded as demos and rehearsals between 1974 and 1976 and were never intended for release; thank goodness the Hackneys agreed to issue them.
Pairing R&B chops with scorching, Stooges-worthy bashing, Death's mid-1970s demos-- compiled and released by Drag City as For the Whole World to See-- lived up to every bit of their missing-link and lost-classic billing when they finally arrived, more than three decades late, in 2009. Spiritual, Mental, Physical-- a follow-up collection of grotty practice tapes and studio goofs culled from a set of tape reels recently unearthed in a Detroit basement-- is a bit less awe-inspiring. To be fair, For the Whole World to See set a high bar.
If there were any justice in the world of rock n’ roll, the entire city of Detroit would have been given a Purple Heart decades ago for their massively influential fight-or-die mentality. Bands like MC5, the Stooges, and the recently rediscovered Death have been saving us from the soothing sounds of Perry Como since garages started having electrical outlets. Death was sending out vital pre-punk transmissions like the seminal “Politicians in My Eyes” years before Americans could buy an import of the Clash’s first record in 1977, but until the long overdue release of their first full-length album, 2009’s …For the Whole World To See, the trio had been unfairly wiped from rock’s collective consciousness.
The unearthing and release of Detroit proto-punks Death's ...For The Whole World To See in 2009 was a cause for celebration. For the decades between its 1975 recording and its subsequent release on Drag City, the band was almost nothing more than a curiosity to collectors, the one single from the album ("Politicians In My Eyes" b/w "Keep On Knocking") quickly falling out of print and into rarity status. When the seven songs that make up ...For The Whole World To See were made available, a crucial part of the punk-rock Rosetta stone was finally filled in.