The members of Detroit proto-punk band, Death, siblings Bobby and Dennis Hackley, and Bobby Duncan originally started out as a reggae band by the name of Rock Funk Fire Express – until they caught the legendary Alice Cooper and decided that they needed to completely change what they had been doing. As Death, the band recorded some demos, played a few shows, even recorded an album but they didn’t go very far. And sadly, history kind of forgot about them for well over 40 years, until Drag City Records released remastered versions of much of Death’s material. 2009 also marked the first time that the band, with a slightly different lineup due to the death of one of the members played live shows in over 40 years as well. I managed to catch them as part of the Afro Punk/CMJ Showcase in ‘11 with Ninjasonik, Jersey Klan and Cerebral Ballzy – and the show was fucking incredible.
Thankfully though, Death is getting the love and adulation that they deserve. With a sound that sounds heavily inspired by Detroit-area bands like the MC5, the Stooges and others, they’re not only being recognized as one of the great forefathers of punk, they’re also being recognized as being the forefathers of the Afro Punk movement. Perhaps without Death, beloved bands such as Fishbone, Living Colour, and contemporary bands such as Cerebral Ballzy wouldn’t be possible. With that in mind, there’s going to be a documentary that tells the band’s story, A Band Called Death which will an early premiere at SXSW and will see a theatrical release in June. The movie has a 12 minute version of the band’s anthem “Politicians in My Eyes.” But what I have here is a demo version of the song and it kicks major ass.