A Band Called Death | Film | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

A Band Called Death

Doc tells the story of a trio of black brothers who recorded a kick-ass rock album in 1975, then returned to obscurity


If you dug last year's Searching for Sugarman, be sure to check out this similarly themed doc, from Mark Christopher Covino, about another "lost" and re-discovered musical act from 1970s Detroit. In 1975, three young African-American brothers, calling their group Death, recorded an album of driving, garage-y rock (a.k.a. proto-punk). Black and white audiences alike were confused, but hit-maker Clive Davis was interested, if the group changed its name. The Hackney brothers said no, and, thus, faded back into regular lives. Until 35 years later, when one of the few 45s they pressed — "Politicians in My Eyes" — resurfaced in the world of obsessive vinyl-collectors. 

Like Sugarman, this is a real-life tale with twists and turns, crazy coincidences and ahead-of-their-time musicians who took both their early rejection and later re-discovery with class. It's also fairly poignant as a story of a tight-knit family weathering life's trials. One brother, the soul of the group, died in 2000, but never wavered from his conviction that "one day the world is going to come looking for this Death stuff." He missed that day, but his brothers kept the faith.

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