Lost punk tapes found

New releases revive the music of Death and The Miamis

Death in all their glory. PHOTO COURTESY TAMMY HACKNEY

Ashley Goetz

Death in all their glory. PHOTO COURTESY TAMMY HACKNEY

One of the beautiful things about the early days of punk rock was the romantic notion that anybody could do it. Of course, this wasnâÄôt actually the case and countless bands faded into obscurity. Still, others were forgotten not because of a lack of talent, but because of strange and varying circumstances of fate. Such is the case of two bands, Death, who hail from Detroit, and New YorkâÄôs The Miamis, punk pioneers and talented musicians whose legacies died out far too early. Now, with the release of two lost albums, punk fans can finally hear what theyâÄôve been missing for more than 30 years. Death ALBUM: âĦ For the Whole World to See LABEL: Drag City RECORDED: 1974 Death Detroit has had its fair share of legendary rock acts. The motor city was home to proto-punk icons The Stooges and the MC5 , two groups that laid the foundation for what would become punk. However, one glorious Detroit punk band has been almost entirely forgotten. They were called Death, a trio of black siblings with passionate music that embodied all of the primal fury and euphoric madness of the time. As legend has it, Death was on the verge of cutting a record deal when a dispute over their outwardly morbid name led to a fallout with management. Additionally, the bandâÄôs race proved to be a challenge in the early years of hard rock. With no one willing to sign the band, Death ultimately dissolved and their few recordings went into storage âÄî until now. The collected songs âÄî seven in total âÄî comprise the album now titled, âÄúâĦ For the Whole World to See.âÄù Listening to this record is entirely gratifying; itâÄôs like traveling back in time to 1974 or hearing âÄúKick Out the JamsâÄù for the first time. ItâÄôs overwhelmingly nostalgic. The opening track, âÄúKeep on Knocking ,âÄù is near-perfect; it exemplifies the pre-punk sound and sets the stage for the charged vocals, distorted riffs and frenetic beats to follow. The song opens with a triumphant, distorted riff soon accompanied by feverish cymbals and the cool, defiant shouts of lead singer Bobby Hackney. He belts out lyrics with precision and flair and his brother DavidâÄôs captivating licks further fuel the forceful rock fire. Following the opening are a fistful of stellar songs that cement DeathâÄôs cultural validity. âÄúLet the World Turn âÄù opens and closes with some soothing cascades, but the hearty middle section reestablishes their frenzied aural dominance. âÄúWhere Do We Go From Here???âÄù plays just like it sounds it should; itâÄôs tinged with nihilism and has an irresistible, pained chorus that finds Bobby crying out the songâÄôs title. The album closes with an expectedly heavy political diatribe called âÄúPoliticians in My Eyes.âÄù Politics are the last ingredient in the classical punk stew and the band pulls it off with sincerity and purpose. These endearing qualities mark the entirety of âÄúâĦ For the Whole World to See.âÄù ItâÄôs a pre-punk gem that displays everything that made the genre great. While itâÄôs a travesty that these guys never got a record deal in their day itâÄôs nice to know that theyâÄôre finally getting their due. The Miamis ALBUM: The Miamis LABEL: Wynbrandt Music Recorded: Throughout the 70s The Miamis At first glance, The Miamis appear to be polar opposites of punk. Their sunny album cover looks like something Iggy Pop would wipe with and their sound is polished, glossy and upbeat. But donâÄôt be fooled; their punk roots are unquestionably legitimate. The Miamis played through the latter part of the âÄô70s in a host of now famous locales like MaxâÄôs Kansas City and CBGB . They were known for their fun, highly danceable numbers and they shared bills with legendary acts like Blondie and the New York Dolls . But despite these badges of honor, the Miamis never gained recognition. Their newly-released, self-titled album attempts to remedy this situation. It opens with a casual pop ballad that sounds more like a song from âÄúHappy Days âÄù than from a band that headlined with the Ramones . Hearing it is a bit of a shock; the song, titled âÄúWe Deliver ,âÄù is so bright and melodic that it seems to betray the New York punk spirit. Still, this catchiness makes it clear why these guys were so popular in clubs; they make it hard not to dance. But that isnâÄôt to say that this is strictly a dance record. ItâÄôs more apt to think of it as homage to early rock âÄònâÄô roll. The Miamis play a delicious mix of slow love songs, like âÄúLet There Be Pain,âÄù and slick rock jams like âÄúDada Mama,âÄù all of which use alluring, communal-sung hooks to ensure toe-tapping. ItâÄôs ultimately this versatility that makes The Miamis so enjoyable. They jumble styles and keep it lively, establishing themselves as an undeniable precursor to the better parts of the New Wave movement spawned from punk. Strict adherents to thick, speed punk will be dismayed, but those looking for pop-worthy tunes will find them.