Recorded by the three brothers Hackney in 1975 but bafflingly left unreleased until last year, Death (not to be confused with the equally trailblazing death/technical metal pioneers of the 80s) left us a mere 7 songs, but what epic and prescient statements they were!
They started as an R'n'B outfit before changing tack - embracing hard rock and the proto-punk of other Motor City originals like the Stooges and MC5 - whilst, to my ears at least, retaining the soul and social conscience of early 70s African-American music.
The result resembles a sound at once like Bad Brains and hardcore punk five years before the fact, with an unmistakable Detroit groove barely contained in a strait jacket of outrage: that of social outcasts trying to comprehend the senseless prejudice and apathy of the world around them. If this all sounds a bit too angsty and sincere to you then you'd do well to remember that this is rock music and getthehelloffamypage.
Now, the Bad Brains comparison isn't just some handy euphimism for all-black (so-called Afro-punk) groups of the 1970s, but one for the political approach and wide range of moods that both bands evoked over the majority of their peers within a raw punk framework. The album begins like any other Detroit garage group, presaging the Dirtbombs et al. Track 2 is spookily H.R, or even the 'black New York Dolls' Pure Hell. However the songs hereafter become lengthier, incorporating time changes and introspective lyrics; there are echoes of Curtis Mayfield's funk, the soul and rhythmic gospel seemingly compulsory for Detroit and even the jaded 1970s psychedelic hangover.
Ahead-of-their-time cuts like 'Let the World Turn', 'You're a Prisoner' and 'Politicians In My Eyes' ought to have reached the nascent punk subculture and become bonafide classics, but they didn't. Death self-released one 7'' single - these recordings having been funded by Columbia Records - and were swiftly dropped after refusing to compromise with a friendlier band name. Now is your chance to hear what a generation missed out on.
01. Keep On Knocking
02. Rock ‘N’ Roll Victim
03. Let The World Turn
04. You’re A Prisioner
05. Freakin’ Out
06. Where Do We Go From Here
07. Politcians In My Eyes