Tuesday, October 22, 2013

A Band Called Death

Faithful readers here have probably seen quite a bit about Death, the Floridian death metal pioneers lead by the late Chuck Schuldiner. But before Scream Bloody Gore, and more impressively before the Ramones, there was another band called Death.

The earlier Death, a Detroit garage band from the '70s, star in the stellar documentary A Band Called Death, which is now streaming on Netflix Instant. The film has been getting positive comparisons to the Oscar-winning hit Searching for Sugar Man, but unlike Sixto Rodriguez, interest in Death had been noticeably picking up before the film's release. Seven songs from the band's unfinished first album were released on Drag City as ...For the Whole World to See, and Jack White cited Death as a influence in a New York Times article. The surviving members have even reunited for a few performances.

The fact is, as Henry Rollins, Alice Cooper, Questlove and Kid Rock all testify in A Band Called Death, that this is a band that deserves your ears. Songs like "Keep on Knocking," "Let the World Turn" and "Politicians in My Eyes" hint that the band could have found a place in history alongside fellow Motor City protopunks as Cooper, the Stooges and the MC5 had they just been able to stick around. In one scene of A Band Called Death, the musicians remember being offered a deal with Clive Davis at Columbia Records, on the condition that they change their name. The band turned it down, and we're left to wonder what could have been.

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