In the early '70s‚ the Hackney brothers were into the same soul and funk artists as pretty much every other African-American kid in Detroit. They found rock and roll through Alice Cooper‚ Led Zeppelin and especially The Who's Quadrophenia‚ and started making some noise of their own in their mom's garage. But seeing Iggy and the Stooges live changed everything.
They chose the baddest name they could think of and while holding onto their classic rock influences‚ cut out all the fat and picked up the tempo to become the best proto-punk band you've never heard of. After playing loads of gigs around town‚ the Death boys caught the ear of legendary Detroit soul producer Don Davis. Davis secured them a slot at his studio where they put to tape these seven songs‚ which never saw a proper release aside from a limited run of seven-inch singles. When Columbia Records came knocking‚ wanting the band to change their name in exchange for a deal‚ the Hackneys wouldn't budge and the record was shelved. Chicago's Drag City Records came into the picture when they caught wind of those rare seven-inches selling for $1‚000 a piece on E-Bay.
The tracks on …For The Whole World To See bear a stark difference from most of the heady prog-rock coming out at the time of this 1975 recording. There is no guitar wankery here. Each song is heavy on riffs‚ and chugs along at an uncanny pace. Lyrically‚ every cut is yearning‚ extra-confident and has that social awareness that makes punk rock what it is. There is little studio wizardry‚ backup vocals or excessive overdubs. The record is a prime snapshot of a raw power trio playing super economical‚ sub-three-minute tunes before anybody else was really doing that sort of thing. However‚ Death's no-frills playing style and recording technique is in no way a result of minimal technical skills. These guys were able to negotiate wicked sharp turns and changes without falling apart. A big part of that cohesiveness was on account of baby brother Dannis' standout performance on the skins. The only time anyone really shows off on this album is in the middle of "Let the World Turn" when Dannis bashes through a solo that is reminiscent of Animal of Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem fame.
Death had clearly studied the Gospel of their Motor City brethren -- The Stooges and MC5 -- and still they managed to make a sound all their own without Iggy's gross-out theatrics and MC5's super-lefty platform. It can be hard to keep track of who begat who in punk rock lore‚ but it is safe to say that Death are a worthy new addition to the family tree of punk.