TER­RELL’S TUNE-UP

Pasatiempo - - In Other Words - Steve Ter­rell

Death takes an en­core With its new al­bum, Spir­i­tual Mental Phys­i­cal, the Detroit proto-punk trio known in the mid’70s as Death has a se­quel to its un­likely de­but CD, ... For the Whole World to See — which was post­poned for about 35 years.

One of the sad­dest com­men­taries on the mu­sic of the ’70s is that about the only racially in­te­grated bands that any­one re­mem­bers are Frank Zappa’s The Moth­ers of In­ven­tion and the Vil­lage Peo­ple. For all the great sounds that came out of the Me Decade, the ugly truth was that this was a pe­riod of seg­re­ga­tion. For the most part, white peo­ple played “rock” — and aw­ful singer-song­writer dreck — while black peo­ple played soul and funk — disco and rap com­ing later in the decade.

That’s why, in the early ’80s, a band like The Bus­Boys was re­fresh­ing — though it was telling that many con­sid­ered the group a nov­elty. As The Bus­Boys sang in “Did You See Me”: “Bet you never heard mu­sic like this by spades.”

But, of course, there were ex­cep­tions. One was a band from Detroit called Death. No, you wouldn’t have heard the group on the ra­dio, at least not back then. “We didn’t fit in at all,” bass player and singer Bobby Hack­ney said in an in­ter­view with NPR last year. “The rock bands that we iden­ti­fied with ... we didn’t hang out with those guys. We were in the in­ner city, on the east side, in the black com­mu­nity. Most of the bands were do­ing stuff like Al Green; Earth, Wind & Fire; The Is­ley Broth­ers. Be­ing in the black com­mu­nity and hav­ing a rock band, peo­ple just looked at us like we was weird. Af­ter we got done with a song, in­stead of cheer­ing and clap­ping, peo­ple would just be look­ing at us.” Death iden­ti­fied with Michi­gan groups and per­form­ers like The

Bobby Hack­ney

of Death

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