Death Lives!
June 11, 2008 7:52 AM   Subscribe

Death were a proto-punk trio of black Jehovah's Witnesses based out of Detroit back in 1974. They were almost signed to Columbia, but bailed on the label when Columbia wanted them to change their name. Instead, they self-released a 7" which is now quite a collector's item, influenced as it was by, “Iggy and Stooges, Black Sabbath, Alice Cooper and The Who”. But the story doesn't end there. Recently, Bobby Hackney, whose father played in Death along with two of his uncles, learned of the band and, lo and behold, his dad found the master tapes for their unreleased full-length in his attic. Is a new chapter in punk rock history about to be written?
posted by stinkycheese (35 comments total) 37 users marked this as a favorite
Feel free to edit "Recently..." into 'More Inside'. I didn't realise I was taking up so much space there, sorry.
posted by stinkycheese at 7:54 AM on June 11, 2008

Links to the mp3s from the 7".....
Politicians in My Eyes

Keep On Knocking

That is an awesome way to get instant cred with your kids.
posted by chillmost at 8:11 AM on June 11, 2008 [2 favorites]

Awesome! Listening to "Politicians In My Eyes" right now! While some of the structural elements are clearly contemporary to the 70s, this shows how truly timeless Punk is.

Those record company execs were idiots.
posted by Xoebe at 8:11 AM on June 11, 2008

MP3s of the 7" in the first link BTW.
posted by stinkycheese at 8:11 AM on June 11, 2008

Argh! Should've previewed.
posted by stinkycheese at 8:12 AM on June 11, 2008

/rubs hands with glee
posted by mwhybark at 8:17 AM on June 11, 2008

Keep on Knocking is fantastic. All the best parts of The Who and Sabbath, to my ears, with wicked tight playing, to boot. I would love to hear the rest; wonder if the masters are still playable.
posted by uncleozzy at 8:40 AM on June 11, 2008

Awesome. I was just listening to Black Dots by the Bad Brains the other day and would love to hear this. I'll have to remember to do so when I get home from work, as we have no sound here in the office. Thanks for the post stinkycheese.
posted by friendlyjuan at 8:51 AM on June 11, 2008

They fucking rip. Thanks so much for posting this.
posted by tiger yang at 8:55 AM on June 11, 2008

friendlyjuan: You're very welcome. Not sure if you read the references to HR in the first link, but Death are sometimes cited as a source of Bad Brains' style, particularly vocal-wise (and particularly in "Politicians In My Eyes").

It's kind of difficult to imagine how Bad Brains would've heard Death (or known they were black considering the lack of a picture sleeve), but then again, the similarities are pretty hard to deny.
posted by stinkycheese at 9:00 AM on June 11, 2008

[This is sweeeeet.]
posted by steef at 9:07 AM on June 11, 2008

I'd like to listen to those MP3s, but for some reason my work firewall is blocking them as "Tasteless." What the hell kind of a judgment is that for a firewall to be making anyway? What's next, blocking content for being too "Tacky"?
posted by saulgoodman at 9:16 AM on June 11, 2008 [1 favorite]

Excellent stuff, thanks much!
posted by the dief at 9:19 AM on June 11, 2008

Wow, that's great stuff. I'd buy the whole CD if they manage to get the tape from the attic remastered.
posted by octothorpe at 9:45 AM on June 11, 2008

This is so cool.
posted by basicchannel at 9:50 AM on June 11, 2008

Wow, this is great stuff! I hope they can get the full-length out. I want it.
posted by lumpenprole at 10:07 AM on June 11, 2008

thank you thank you thank you thank you
posted by dersins at 10:10 AM on June 11, 2008

another rare early punk find
posted by xjudson at 10:25 AM on June 11, 2008

enjoyed Politicians in My Eyes but Keep On Knocking shut down my browser. too punk for firefox, i guess.

thanks for the post/links!
posted by msconduct at 11:28 AM on June 11, 2008

Aww, I was sure from the title that this would be about one of my favorite bands, influential extreme metallers Death. Maybe they need an FPP as well?
posted by thedaniel at 11:47 AM on June 11, 2008

Huh, I immediately thought of Black Death, the first all-black heavy metal band, when I saw this.
posted by medeine at 11:49 AM on June 11, 2008

Heh. From medeine's link:

After landing a deal with Auburn Records, Black Death released their self-titled debut in '85, a record that sold 1,000 copies within ten days of release. But one thing kept them down. "Their biggest problem was finding a replacement if a member quit the band--there just weren't that many black guys in town who could play metal," says Auburn Records president Bill Peters.
posted by stinkycheese at 11:51 AM on June 11, 2008

Yeah, I did see that mention of HR in the first link. Also something about tracking Darryl down to see if Bad Brains had heard of Death. I would love to know if that's true. I can't decide if the nascent (if any) scene at the time would be a help or a hindrance. Seems to me that during the time period Death were active folks that were into that sort of music would be looking for anything they could get their hands on, but who knows if they would have been able to get a hold of this. They pressed 1,000 copies of that 7", right? I suppose it's possible.
posted by friendlyjuan at 1:06 PM on June 11, 2008

(on non-preview)

The above posted at stinkycheese.
posted by friendlyjuan at 1:07 PM on June 11, 2008

It's certainly possible, sure. They weren't that far from each other.

I'd be interested to hear what The Bad Brains have to say about Death but it would really surprise me if a) they'd heard the band, and b) would admit to it at this point.
posted by stinkycheese at 1:27 PM on June 11, 2008

wow. this guys vocals are the missing link between Rob Tyner and HR.
posted by ianaces at 1:28 PM on June 11, 2008

That's a pretty good point stinkycheese. Bad Brains are held up as one of the founding groups of hardcore, so it might diminish their legacy a bit should they admit to being influenced by Death. I haven't heard the linked songs yet, but if everyone else hears a connection perhaps it's not too far fetched to presume an influence.
posted by friendlyjuan at 2:10 PM on June 11, 2008

I wonder if this could be a viral prank thing.
posted by PHINC at 3:30 PM on June 11, 2008

Man, I want this album.
posted by rotifer at 3:43 PM on June 11, 2008

This is some good fucking rock n' roll. I definitely hear the singer's resemblance to HR, but their music doesn't really sound anything like Bad Brains, so I doubt they were an influence. Plus, as the story goes, Bad Brains were all into funk, jazz and reggae, and were originally a jazz/funk band, until one of them bought the first Ramones album and had a revelation.

Also, the list of black people in punk and new wave is extensive, but they don't appear to even mention DH Peligro of Dead Kennedys. Other than Bad Brains, he was probably the most visible black man in punk rock.
posted by DecemberBoy at 5:26 PM on June 11, 2008

Um the "Crackslive" mp3 (from above) is what, an entire show? I canceled the download at 50Mb, though it was going pretty quick.
posted by Xoebe at 8:39 PM on June 11, 2008

Call me crazy, but the end of "Politicians In My Eyes" - does this remind anybody else of "New Dawn Fades" by Joy Division?
posted by stinkycheese at 9:22 PM on June 11, 2008

May I ask where you are getting the "Jehovah's Witness" thing from? I was very curious to read that but I could not find it in the links. Or is that personal knowledge? Thanks to anyone who can answer.
posted by Danila at 3:08 PM on June 12, 2008

Danila: They're referred to as being Jehovah's Witnesses in this Arthur piece.
posted by stinkycheese at 10:57 AM on June 13, 2008

Thanks stinkycheese, I really like their music.
posted by Danila at 1:59 PM on June 13, 2008

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