When I was a wee little lad, I was told that The Ramones and The Sex Pistols were the originators of punk. Also when I was a wee little lad, Death was a death metal band from Florida, started by Chuck Shuldiner. Well it turns out that three brothers from Detroit played some very fast rock n' roll before The Ramones and The Sex Pistols. And there was already a band called Death before Chuck changed Mantis to Death. This documentary caught my attention when Sean Boyle of Hellbeard mentioned it on his Facebook status. And I was surprise when I saw that Scott Mosier (Kevin Smith's friend/producer) helped to get this doc released.
In the documentary, we meet the Hackney brothers (Bobby, David, Dannis). Sons of a preacher, they grew up in the Motor City known as Detroit, where Motown was a huge thing. In 73', they formed a band called Death after trying to start a funk/rock n' roll band. The sound was very fast and loud, that people today would consider it "proto-punk". They recorded a demo and shopped it around to record labels, but no one was interested. most of the labels thought the sound was too aggressive. And the band's name didn't help either, even though in the doc, they explain the meaning of the name, which was meant to be seen as a positive light. But soon enough, they were signed to Groovesville, but sadly, they had trouble in trying to market Death. Because of this, Death will disband. Bobby and Dannis would start a reggae. David would write songs by himself. Years later, David would pass away. This would be a shame because later on, a record collector purchased a 45 and was amazed by Death's sound. He would write about them on his blog and upload two songs from Death. Later, other music fans would listen to them and also give high praises. But when Bobby's son, Bobby Jr., heard the two songs, that would make a huge impact on Bobby and Dannis. They finally got the recognition they deserved. Because of all the interest, the remaining Hackney brothers would reform Death. Later, they would release their first album and start touring.
This was a really touching documentary about not just music, but family. The Hackney brothers were really close. David had a message and luckily his brothers were able to spread it to concert goers, nationwide. A Band Called Death is a great documentary in general. Even if you're not a fan of punk, the Hackney's story is still interesting. Bobby and Dannis seemed very humble and don't make a big deal about they were the "first" to do this or that. But it's nice to see that a band like them have finally got recognized.