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