Like so many others over the past month, I’ve been looking a lot at my actions and trying my best to become a better ally, fighting to help amplify Black voices in everything I do.
Also, because it’s lockdown and I have infinitely more time on my hands, I’ve been listening to SO MUCH music. Instead of a proper blog post (I wanted to hold off on some film-centric writing for a bit to talk about some other super important stuff), I thought I’d share with you guys the story of one of my favourite proto-punk bands, who were super important in the formation of the genre – and who were Black.
(Disclaimer: this isn’t actually “untold” but I just feel like not enough people know about this band and how important they were)
The three original members of Death (not to be confused with the multitude of other metal bands who are also called Death), were three brothers. Bobby, David and Dannis Hackney originally started out as a funk band, but switched to a heavier sound after they went to see The Who.
Bringing in Don Davis (who also worked with Funkadelic) to work with them on their debut studio session, the band produced seven ferocious, politically-driven songs. From this session, the band self-released ‘Politicians in My Eyes’, which is awesome, but only got a run of 500 copies.
They were rediscovered circa 2009, after the ‘Politicians in My Eyes’ 12” single became a rare collectors’ item, and Drag City records released …For The Whole World To See – a collection of those seven songs from the original recording session. This album is so infused with energy and power and rage that it feels almost like an assault just to listen to them.
From the raw and raucous ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll Victim’ to the almost-lilting outpouring in ‘You’re A Prisoner’ to the uplifting chorus of ‘Where Do We Go From Here?’ – this band is more than just cookie cutter punk. And that’s even before we get to the staccato stabs and transcendental chorus of ‘Politicians…’ It’s a travesty that this band haven’t received the widespread appreciation they deserve and this album should definitely be on your frequent rotations.
You can read a full run-down of some of the most influential Black artists in rock if you check out the feature I helped write for Bring the Noise: https://www.bringthenoiseuk.com/202006/features/black-lives-matter-legendary-black-musicians-who-helped-shape-rock-n-roll-history
All Things Go also put together a list of up-and-coming smaller Black artists which you can check out here (I can definitely recommend Sudan Archives and serpentwithfeet with my whole entire heart): https://allthingsgomusic.com/black-artists/
If you also want to help support the #BlackLivesMatter cause, this is a really good list of resources: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1-0KC83vYfVQ-2freQveH43PWxuab2uWDEGolzrNoIks/mobilebasic?fbclid=IwAR0FlY3euYo5_guY82SH_mwv7xuMrtQBk-LUKjpqkEFzo2gQqNODojn6ZPM
Black Lives Matter. Black Music Matters. Black Artists Matter – let’s not let them be forgotten.