DEATH

Spiritual • Mental • Physical
(Drag City)

The initial "whoa" factor that greeted the 2009 reissue of Death's ...For the Whole World to See stemmed from the fact that in the mid 1970s, three black brothers (Dannis, Bobby, and David Hackney) from Detroit sounded more like proto-punk deities the Stooges, Alice Cooper, and MC5 than they did spaciously earthy funk outfits like Funkadelic and Black Merda. Bloggers went semicrazy over the backstory, and yeah, the music was vicious and tight enough to warrant freak-outs. Drag City now follows up that brilliant introduction with SpiritualMentalPhysical, raw demos that Death cut from 1974 to 1976. While not as powerful and instantly infectious as ...For the Whole World to See, SpiritualMentalPhysical contains more proof of Death's vital instrumental chops and reveals a more meditative side to their songwriting—with surprising nods to the Beatles and the Move, too. For better or worse, the sound here's more Love than it is Bad Brains. DAVE SEGAL

Dissenting Opinion

I love Death, and I was super stoked when ...For the Whole World to See was finally issued, BUT I dunno about these "newly discovered tapes" that compose SpiritualMentalPhysical. It's not because of the jams, well... it's sorta because of the jams. These songs shoulda been saved as bonus tracks—they're not bad, but SMP is little more than a practice tape. Look, I have NOOOOO problem with MORE unheard shit, pointless bonus tracks, liner notes... all that I want... and MORE OF IT, PLEASE. However, in this form, as a "proper" album, it's NOT essential and does nothing to bolster the Death legend. As it is, to me, SMP feels exploitative... a couple tracks are worthless—one is the drummer drumming alone and one is the bassist warming up—and then there are two unfinished "space" jams, which sound like half-baked ideas. Um, bullshit filler that ain't SONGS!! This shoulda been a cool double 45/7-inch EP set; it coulda been edited to SIX actual songs on the recording with the padding left off... BUT it wasn't. MIKE NIPPER