I’ve always had this thing where I obsess about things that I love. I obsess to the point where I try to gain an encyclopedic knowledge of the given subject. Some of these things are horror movies, Star Wars, comic books, beer, and, most of all, punk rock. That said, I had never heard of Death until my father-in-law clipped an article out of the paper for me. The story blew me away. Three brothers from Detroit in the early 1970s start playing what would, in coming years, be known as punk rock. They eked out a 7” and promptly disappeared. Flash forward to today. The master tapes for seven songs have been discovered and released on Drag City. When I put this on, I didn’t know what to expect and was quickly blown away. The first thing that struck me was how much singer Bobby Hackney sounds like HR (I know that the Bad Brains connections are inevitable due to both bands being African-American, but, damn, they sound alike). The music is literally the missing link between the proto punk bands like MC5 and The Stooges and the likes of the Ramones and what would come afterwards (I kept thinking about The Zeros and Radio Birdman when listening to it). It often grooves like ‘70s rock under the surface, but the speed and the politicized lyrics really prove that Death (having recorded these songs in 1975) could really be the first true punk rock band. I’m still trying to pick the pieces of my mind up off the floor!
–ty (Drag City)