No, not The Seventh Seal. I’m talking about a documentary about the BAND Death. No, not the first-wave Florida death metal act. I mean the Detroit proto-punk African American rock trio.
I know our Vermont readers have heard of ’em, at least. But if you need to get hipped to Death’s story, start with this New York Times article.
Here’s the quickie version: Death was a high-velocity Motor City act featuring brothers Bobby, Dannis and David Hackney. These cats were waaaay before their time (they predated even Bad Brains). Despite their provocative-for-the-’70s moniker, Death almost broke into the mainstream music biz thanks to shot-caller Clive Davis. Alas, it was not to be. The band split, and Bobby and Dannis moved to Vermont to become area reggae heroes. David stayed back in Detroit and sadly passed away in 2000. (It was my humble pleasure to have jammed with him shortly before his passing.)
Read more about Death’s brief life at Solidstate, the blog that birthed this one.
In the years since they broke up, Death have become bona fide legends, celebrated by record geeks and rock stars alike. Jack White has the following to say about Death: “The first time the stereo played ‘Politicians in My Eyes,’ I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. When I was told the history of the band and what year they recorded this music, it just didn’t make sense. Ahead of punk, and ahead of their time.”
Like many other music obsessives, I’m in love with the Drag City re-release of Death’s 1974 demos, For All the World to See. It’s been popping up on a lot of music critic lists lately, and if you already own it, you know why.
I’m also psyched that the original Death has (literally) spawned a band called Rough Francis, which finds a new generation of Hackneys carrying on the balls-to-the wall tradition of their dads and uncles.
But about that movie. . . in another interesting turn of events, an old associate Jeff Howlett (who fronted a 1990s Burlington metalcore band that was the only clear rival to my own) is putting together a documentary chronicling the Death’s, um, “rebirth.” Check out the trailer here:
Now go get yourself a copy of For All the World to See. It slays.