A Band Called Death | Chicago Reader

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96 minutes · 2013

Documentary, Music documentary
The story is irresistible—in the early 70s, three black brothers from Detroit form a brilliant proto-punk band but go down in flames—which may explain why David, Dannis, and Bobby Hackney, aka Death, have developed an ardent following on the basis of only seven recorded tracks. Documentary makers Jeff Howlett and Mark Covino follow surviving members Dannis and Bobby (David, the mastermind, died of lung cancer in 2000) as they revisit their old haunts, remembering how anomalous they were back then (neighbors complained about their furious "white boy music") and ruing their decision to turn down a contract from Arista Records rather than rename the band. If the brothers seem a little drunk on their own myth—a problem exacerbated by the slack, indulgent editing—they're also genuinely humbled by the band's rediscovery and warmed by the fact that their kids have carried on the family tradition, covering Death songs in their new band Rough Francis.

See our full review: Our guide to the Summer Music Film Festival at Music Box

Our guide to the Summer Music Film Festival at Music Box

The five-day blowout includes documentaries on Death, John Fahey, Nels Cline, and Levon Helm. »

Black punks revolt in <i>A Band Called Death</i>

Black punks revolt in A Band Called Death

A new documentary revisits three Detroit brothers who rocked in obscurity. »

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