Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Death - "Politicians In My Eyes"

From Dusted Reviews:

Death - "Politicians In My Eyes" (...For the Whole World to See)

Every time a reissue of a remarkable, lost record comes out, it’s difficult to resist the temptation to compile an amazed laundry-list of bands it mysteriously prefigures. Death’s …For the Whole World to See provokes such a response. Some licks sound like Husker Du. Some quivery vocals evoke H.R. of Bad Brains.

But better, perhaps, to view Death’s seven-song oeuvre as the logical bridging of a lacuna rather than a before-its-time aberration. Of course it makes sense that, in mid-’70s Detroit, three black brothers (Dannis, Bobby and David Hackney) might have gotten as into the Stooges and MC5 as into Funkadelic, that they might have synthesized the sounds of FM rock radio just as their white peers ransacked soul and funk. The Hackneys released a single, recorded and shelved an album, and then moved to Vermont with their family. They morphed into a reggae band. Time passed. The EP slowly acquired a cult record-collector following. Tapes were unearthed, and here we are.

Death’s music falls somewhere between ’70s hard rock and the more stripped-down, straightforward garage rock one might deem proto-punk. Obviously influenced by Cream and the Jimi Hendrix Experience, most of their songs span multiple parts and time signatures. “Let the World Turn” even features a drum solo. With the exception of that song, a reverby slow-jam, the album stays uptempo. It’s replete with wonderful, memorable moments, like “Freakin’ Out,” which mixes a classic-sounding garage riff with an unexpected chorus that sharply repeats the title phrase over a snare beat. “Rock-N-Roll Victim” avoids hard-rock cliché by augmenting the drums with handclaps.

There’s not a bad song in the bunch, but the songs from Death’s only official release are the clear highlights on …For the Whole World to See. “Keep On Knocking” is a simple, catchy rock song that gets all the elements right, particularly Bobby Hackney’s urgent vocals and David’s spot-on guitar solo. “Politicians In My Eyes,” the EP’s A-side, is masterful. Form meets content as Bobby alternately spits out and wails lyrics decrying hypocritical politicians. David’s guitars and Dannis’ drums, similarly, sound angry, accusatory. Fiercely energetic, it sounds so rooted in such a particular time and place that it has a kind of canonical familiarity, like something that’s been played on the radio for years.

By Talya Cooper


Sunday, March 29, 2009

Guest Post: Stark Online

To begin, I must state that I am no expert on the chronology of punk music. Outside of the heavy hitters (The Jam, Clash, Stooges etc...), I can't really say I listen to all that much early punk rock. Yet, this reissue of Death's lost 1973 record ...For the Whole World to See is blowing my fucking mind.
I'm sure someone out there can recite to me a litany of bands that Death either drew from or influenced, but I feel no compulsion to do that here. There are, of course, elements of punk fundamentals on this album: speed, punchy bass and simple chord structures; but there is something so transcendental about this record that it ceases to be of a certain era or a certain genre.

The songs are visceral and moving, and the lyrical content is poignant and meaningful. There is even a freaking drum solo on the track "Let the World Turn."

These three brothers from Detroit (Dannis, Bobby and David Hackney) somehow nailed it, and we thank Drag City for getting this back out there.
Our new friend from Other Music, Mikey (I think that's his name) has even been so inspired as to start a facebook page for the record.
Join up, and buy the record - I'm talking like, within the next hour.

posted by StarkNY
Thank you Stark!

Guest Post: Alex Hornsby

The brothers Hackney started making music together in 1971. Like many African-American musicians playing in Detroit in the 1970s the agenda was funk & soul a la Stax & Motown. This changed after seeing Iggy And The Stooges live.

We started listening to more rock, stuff like Alice Cooper and Led Zeppelin. When the Who's Quadrophenia came out, David (Eldest Hackney and guitar player) became convinced that nothing was more important than rock and roll. In 1974, we put together a demo tape with the most rocking name we could think of: DEATH.
Someone at Columbia heard the demo and wanted to sign them right up. One condition: the name had to go. To cut a long story short, they didn't change their name or get signed.
Death became a reggae band and the demos gathered dust for 30 years.So the legend goes the demos were discovered by one of the band's kids - himself a drummer in rock band. He was pretty blown away by his reggae-playing old man's raucous band of yore. Mp3s starting multiplying.
Word of mouth picked up pace and now Drag City are releasing the 8 song album.I thought it was going to be some kind of Minger Mike situation when I was first put onto this.
But hearing is believing. And even if it is some sort of JT Leroy-style put-on, I'm fine with it because this record is MEGA.
Thanks Alex!

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