Death: A Long-Forgotten Rock Relic, Reborn

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Friday's Pick

  • Song: "Keep on Knocking"
  • Artist: Death
  • CD: For the Whole World to See
  • Genre: Proto-Punk
Death 300

A mid-'70s power-trio from Detroit, Death sounds like a lost cousin of Thin Lizzy and the MC5 in "Keep on Knocking." Tammy Hackney hide caption

toggle caption Tammy Hackney

With its muddy-boots sound and evocations of both the MC5 and Thin Lizzy, Death's "Keep on Knocking" sounds like it was cut 34 years ago. In fact, it was. Just when it seems as if every long-forgotten band from rock's past has been resurrected by blogs and online traders, here's among the most obscure: a black power-trio from Detroit who recorded portions of an album in 1975, only to see it shelved over its label's reservations with the group's admittedly nihilistic name.

But there's nothing too grim about "Keep on Knocking," one of the standouts from For the Whole World to See, the Death album that's finally receiving an official, extremely belated release. From the opening power chords to bassist-singer Bobby Hackney's rushed, garbled vocal, the song has the harried, live-for-the-moment desperation that's always made for great punk (and great rock 'n' roll overall). We'll never know how the band would sound today — —itarist and leader David Hackney died nine years ago — —t for a moment, at least, Death lives.

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This story originally ran on Feb. 6, 2009.

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