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Spiritual / Mental / Physical

Death

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Album Review

When Drag City issued power trio Death's unissued 1973 Detroit singles in 2009 as For the Whole World to See, they unearthed classic underground Detroit rock. Those tracks were finished but raw, exceedingly well written and ferociously performed by the Hackney brothers: guitarist David, bassist Bobby, and drummer Dannis. The ten cuts on Spiritual Mental Physical were recorded as demos and rehearsals between 1974 and 1976 and were never intended for release; thank goodness the Hackneys agreed to issue them. Little was done to clean them up: they're rough, woolly, and loose, but they rock. The brothers were very capable songwriters who cut their teeth on soul and rhythm & blues. They brought that to the party for both their singles and these demos. As rough as some of it sounds, the rawer-than-dirt sonics enhance rather than detract form the material. Check the funky roots blast in album-opener "Views," which walks the line between early Funkadelic raucousness and the MC5's all-out attack. "Masks" uses a melody line from the Beatles' "Got to Get You into My Life," to a different — and much heavier — end. Their set's hinge piece, the nearly six-minute, "Can You Give Me a Thrill," rivals anything on the Stooges' Funhouse for sheer cocksure intensity. It's back to basics, snotty, and overdriven garage rock in prime Motor City style. "People Look Away" clocks in at a little over two minutes and utilizes most of the chord structure from "Sweet Jane" in an amped-up, blasting rebel yell with all-but- indecipherable vocals. "The Storm Within" is a post-psych workup (with shouted vocals that can't be understood; it's complete with live distorted guitars doing their best Jimi Hendrix and Eddie Hazel, double-timed drums, and and a humming bass throb. The last three cuts are mercifully brief showcases for the individual players: "David's Dream" is a balladic jazzy solo guitar instrumental, "Bobby Bassing It" sounds exactly like its title, and finally, there is "Dannis on the Motor City Drums." While these three should have been left off, it's the first seven that matter. They provide another helping of Death's own brand of Detroit rock, which is every bit as urgent, unhinged, bratty, and powerful as the tracks on For the Whole World to See.

Biography

Formed: 1973 in Detroit, MI

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '70s, '10s

The East Detroit-based proto-punk outfit Death formed in 1973 around the talents of siblings David, Bobby, and Dannis Hackney. The brothers, who had spent previous summers banging out soul and funk jams, began to gravitate toward the deafening assault of bands like Black Sabbath, MC5, Alice Cooper, and the Stooges, resulting in a volatile live set and demo that found favor with Detroit's burgeoning underground rock scene. Producer Don Davis (Funkadelic) was called in to helm the band's debut studio...
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Spiritual / Mental / Physical, Death
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