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New Music: Death – Death III

DeathDeath III

4-BamsTop Tracks:
“North Street”
“Restlessness”
“First Snowfall in Detroit”

Album Highlights: Not very often does something come along and completely re-write the annals of music history in quite the same way as the discovery and release of …For All the World to See in 2009, an album from of the early 70’s trio named Death. Perhaps one of the most important revelations in recent musical lore, the commitment of showcasing the recordings done by three brothers from Detroit is now complete. Death III is a collection of songs recorded over a nearly three decade-long career, which for the most part, went unheard.

The best part about the discovery of Death is the raw guitar playing talent of David Hackney. The album begins with an instrumental track that features David and some of his six-string prowess. The next track, “North Street”, sounds like it just missed making the final listing of their feverish and now legendary full-length first album, and is an instant proto-punk classic. It makes you just want to get up and flail around the room to Oingo Boingo’s Who Do You Want to Be like Tom Hanks in the film Bachelor Party.

“Restlessness” provides the droning head bob that any fan of rock ‘n’ roll, of the heavier variety, is looking for out of their music. A vintage drum line opens this track, followed by a killer guitar lick that seems to birth the well-known, three-chord punk progression. David’s guitar solo speaks with the best of them and accompanies the storyline of a “poor man’s” blues by crying it’s way through the fills.

Album Lowlight: Due to the lack of popularity from big recording studios at their height as a band, many of Death’s recordings are a bit lackluster in terms of quality. It can be tough to get a bedroom or garage recording to sound good without the monetary help required for mastering. There are a few vocal segments that are tough to make out, and a few drum beats that get washed out by an over-milked guitar amp, as evidenced by “Free”. But overall, these tracks sound clean.

“We Are Only People” and “Yes He’s Coming” take the listener down a different path, a bit more of a Pink Floyd psych-rock path, almost as if they were experimenting with their own spirituality as well as their instruments, simultaneously.

As this is a collection of recordings and not a proper album release, there is no real flow involved when listening. The track listing is well put together with what there was to work with, but it’s missing a few uptempo songs in the latter half of the release.

Takeaway: Music is deeply rooted in emotion and feeling, and more often than not experimentation. The Hackney brothers of Detroit were full of all of these. Death III gives the listener insight into the minds of a young group of musicians in the 70’s transitioning out of the Flower Power era of the 60’s and into what would become the birth of punk music by bands like The Ramones and the Sex Pistols. Not only has this band been overlooked by the history books, but David Hackney’s guitar playing has been missed. Listen to “First Snowfall in Detroit” and try to not let your soul weep like it does when you listen to “Little Wing”.

~Scotland Miller

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