These days Bono is really into overblown metaphors that once unpacked mean nothing. During their tenure, Death — the Detroit trio of David Hackney, Bobby Hackney, Dannis Hackney — were more about cutting to the chase, punk-rock style. I bring them up because their 1975 album …For the Whole World to See, engineered by Jim Vitti (Parliament/Funkadelic), is being reissued by Drag City. Bobby with background:

Brothers David, Bobby and Dannis Hackney started making music together in 1971, when David, the eldest, was 19 and Dannis, the youngest, was 16. Like many young African-American musicians, our primary in?uences were soul and funk music. This changed after seeing Iggy And The Stooges live. We started listening to more rock, stuff like Alice Cooper and Led Zeppelin. When the Who’s Quadrophenia came out, David became convinced that nothing was more important than rock and roll. In 1974, we put together a demo tape with the most rocking name we could think of: DEATH.

When Clive Davis tried signing Death to Columbia, he said they’d have to change their name first. David, the oldest and therefore the band leader, said no. See, metaphors vs. actions. Take a listen to “Politicians In My Eyes.” It rules.

A single of “Politicians in My Eyes” b/w “Keep On Knocking” was pressed in the ’70s and exists out there, if you look hard enough.

…For The Whole World To See is out 2/17 via Drag City:

[Photo by Tammy Hackney]

Comments (22)
  1. foryourperusal  |   Posted on Feb 9th, 2009 0

    This is really really good shit. Punk the way it should be.

    More fun facts: after Clive Davis caused the death of Death, two of the brothers moved to Vermont and started a reggae band called Lambsbread that still gigs around here and there. And the drummer’s son is in a local band in Burlington VT called Rough Francis that played a few shows consisting entirely of Death material late last year. Maybe they will do more…

    Here’s an interview with an original Death member from a few months ago:

    And here’s Rough Francis’s myspace:

  2. chyatt  |   Posted on Feb 9th, 2009 0

    The bit in the middle where he does the Kool and the Gang “Summer Madness” sound with his voice is absolutely tremendous. Great song.

  3. tim  |   Posted on Feb 9th, 2009 0

    I wouldn’t consider this punk. Has some punk energy, but seems fairly rock and roll to me.

  4. ethan  |   Posted on Feb 9th, 2009 0

    that U2 segue was REALLY forced…

  5. It preceded punk, the hackneys had motown, and rocknroll acts like the who and led zeppelin as their influences… they didn’t even know what punk rock was when they wrote it

    • If you want to get technical, they put together their demo in 1974, which is the same time things were bubbling around the NY/CBGB’s scene w/ Television, Patti Smith, the Ramones, etc. And they were inspired by the Stooges, who also inspired much of punk’s first wave. So it’s contemporaneous. But I meant “punk-rock style,” as in, a punk attitude. Which has been around as long as someone decided to say “fuck the man.”

  6. Why even bother bringing up Bono? What does that have to do with this band at all?

    • I was just picking up a thread from earlier today re: Bono’s politics. I watched the entire broadcast of the Grammys last night. Bloated rock stars on on the mind. This felt very refreshing in comparison + seemed to call for some type of comparison.

  7. The Dirtbombs covered this track on a recent 7″

  8. 100,000  |   Posted on Feb 9th, 2009 0

    The opening is right on that line between the first Clash and early Kiss. Listen to MC5′s “Over and Over”(the demo version is GBV cool too)… Kiss and Boston hijacked that thing…what could have been done to stop them?

  9. incredible find, brando. AND IT’S COMING OUT ON DRAG CITY? awesome!

  10. Paul Ramon  |   Posted on Feb 9th, 2009 0

    Why bring up Bono? To wring out extra page views and at the same time show you are totally completely up-to-date on your web references. Which results in crap like referring obnoxiously to a previous crap post in a way that’s supposed to be knowing and cool.

  11. Burg  |   Posted on Feb 10th, 2009 0

    This is really cool music. Thx.

  12. P.T. Smith  |   Posted on Feb 10th, 2009 0

    I’m just going to add to the Rough Francis mention by saying that they’ve basically been the it thing here in Burlington since that show, are worth checking out even if they aren’t playing more Death covers, and that the drummer is absolutly insane. Their cover show was one of the best shows I’ve seen, and I’m not just counting local bands.

  13. TD  |   Posted on Feb 10th, 2009 0

    That was incredible! Thank you so much for posting. It’s sad to think of how much fantastic music has probably been lost to the wayside over the years.

  14. Petteri   |   Posted on Feb 11th, 2009 0

    To think how different the history of rock could have been if this band had been given a chance. As a black rock band – I can’t think of a single black rock band in the 70′s, and hardly any other time either – and with a name like that, they sure would have stood out. Barriers could have been broken. Really, they do seem to prefigure melodic punk of all things. To hell with Clive Davis…

    • TD  |   Posted on Feb 11th, 2009 0

      Does Love almost count as a black rock band? Anyone who mattered in that band was black.

      • Petteri   |   Posted on Feb 11th, 2009 0

        Well, Love was 60′s and there were 2 black guys but the white Bryan Maclean wrote classics like “Alone again or” etc, whereas the black Echols only cowrote with others on a few early songs… ;)

  15. petteri   |   Posted on Feb 11th, 2009 0

    And Maclean sang them too

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