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A Band Called Death (+ Digital Copy)

4.6 out of 5 stars 281 customer reviews

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(Aug 13, 2013)
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Editorial Reviews

Includes SRM Free Digital Download

Before Bad Brains, the Sex Pistols or even the Ramones, there was a band called Death. Punk before punk existed, three teenage brothers in the early '70s formed a band in their spare bedroom, began playing a few local gigs and even pressed a single in the hopes of getting signed. But this was the era of Motown and emerging disco. Record companies found Death’s music— and band name—too intimidating, and the group were never given a fair shot, disbanding before they even completed one album. Equal parts electrifying rockumentary and epic family love story, A BAND CALLED DEATH chronicles the incredible fairy-tale journey of what happened almost three decades later, when a dusty 1974 demo tape made its way out of the attic and found an audience several generations younger. Playing music impossibly ahead of its time, Death is now being credited as the first black punk band (hell...the first punk band!), and are finally receiving their long overdue recognition as true rock pioneers.


Special Features

  • Audio Commentary with Directors Mark Covino and Jeff Howlett
  • Audio Commentary with the Hackney Family
  • Q&A Live at The Vermont International Film Festival
  • Deleted Scenes
  • "Let the World Turn" Music Video
  • Trailers
  • 20-Page Booklet
  • High quality 720p HD Digital Download of the Film

  • Product Details

    • Actors: None
    • Directors: Jeff Howlett, Mark Covino
    • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, Dolby, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen, Digital_copy
    • Language: English
    • Subtitles: English
    • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
    • Number of discs: 1
    • Rated:
      NR
      Not Rated
    • Studio: IMAGE ENTERTAINMENT
    • DVD Release Date: August 13, 2013
    • Run Time: 96 minutes
    • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (281 customer reviews)
    • ASIN: B00CPTUMO8
    • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #75,224 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

    Customer Reviews

    Top Customer Reviews

    Format: Amazon Video Verified Purchase
    Excellent Documentary and very well put together Mark and Jeff. What can I say, this was my husband David for 22 years and he deserves every bit of this acknowledgment. We had our ups and downs in our life together, but I truly believe We're Going To Make It Together in Heaven, God willing! David was a great musician and song writer, and has been and will truly be missed. I just wish that he could have hung on a little bit longer so he could have seen his music come to life. Thanks be to God and to everyone that made this music a reality. Love to the band, their wives and their families. Couldn't have happened without you all!

    Heidi Hackney Simpson
    5 Comments 62 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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    Let me first say that I think this story is fantastic, as is the music of the band. I bought their album in 2009 and was immediately taken with it. For music this good (at this kind of quality) to go unnoticed for 35 years...absolutely mind boggling.
    However... nothing can ruin the enjoyment of a band like hype and inaccurate facts on their history...especially when people start buying into it and shoving it down your throat.
    The story of the band itself is amazing, but this recent documentary (while mostly great) makes some statements that are simply not true....statements that seem to be passed around the internet a lot over the past 4 years, and a lot of people are buying as fact.
    Death were not BEFORE the Ramones (as stated in the trailer), and were not "doing what the Ramones were doing but 2 years earlier", as stated in an interview by a member of the Roots.
    While Death certainly predate the punk movement itself, they were one of MANY groups who were playing this kind of music in 1974...and I'm not even counting the Stooges and Mc5 from a few years earlier.
    Along with the Saints, Dictators, Electric Eels, and Rocket From the Tombs, the Death story is just much more appealing to a mass audience.

    As for the Ramones,
    -Death established in the Spring of '74. Before that, the Hackney Brothers were a funk group called Rock Fire Funk Express. The Ramones formed in January '74
    -Death wrote the songs on "for the whole world to see' between Oct and Dec '74 (as stated in the record sleeve). The Ramones played their first show March 30, '74, and were playing CBGB's weekly by August. There's also documented audio of the Ramones from Sept 15, 1974.
    -Death recorded "for the whole world to see" on Feb 18, 1975.
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    4 Comments 61 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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    Format: Amazon Video Verified Purchase
    This documentary is about a band called Death, but if you look deeper it's really about an artist unwilling to compromise his art. I recently bought the album as well and the songs are great. I hope people get the message and do the thing they love doing rather then the thing that will (maybe) make them rich and famous.
    Comment 7 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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    Format: Amazon Video
    Even a very gifted writer of fiction would have a difficult time writing a story that is as unusual and inspiring as that of a trio of brothers from Detroit who formed a band that was named Death. This particular band is not to be confused with a death metal band from Florida of the same name who was fronted by the tremendously talented and sorely missed Chuck Schuldiner. One thing that both of these bands have in common other than their name of course is that neither achieved much in the way of commercial sales. However, Schuldiner was able to gain considerable well deserved respect within the metal community over the years, even with a lot of those who didn't like death metal. With the Detroit Death, that took decades.

    This documentary is basically split into two parts. The first tells the story of the three Hackney (Bobby, Dannis, and David) brothers who grew up in a tight knit working class household. Their father was a an electrical lineman who died heroically trying to a man's life. This incident would touch all three brothers, David in particular, very deeply. During the late 1960s and early 1970s, the Hackneys developed a love toward the heaviest rock bands and artists of that time. So, they decided to form their own band much to the disdain of both whites who thought only whites should play rock music and blacks who felt that blacks should only play rhythm and blues. The eldest David played guitar, Dannis played the drums, and Bobby handled both bassist and lead vocalist duties. The next job was to now find a name for the band.

    David who was still strongly affected by his father's passing decided to go with Death.
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    Comment 4 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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    By Darren on September 14, 2015
    Format: Amazon Video Verified Purchase
    Touching documentary about a literal band of brothers calling themselves "Death" in mid-70s Detroit. Their music was what we might term "proto-punk", though the unusually tight musicianship (for the genre) and the melodic bass lines also put the music in the simple hard-rock camp, in my opinion. Other reviewers here have already noted that band leader, David Hackney, may have borrowed musical ideas from true proto-punk bands like Iggy Pop's Stooges and especially MC5. And it's worth noting that the Ramones were contemporary with Death, not "later", as erroneously stated by the film. And what of a Cro-Magnon-punk band like the mid-Sixties' "The Fugs"? So I think we have a little problem with the movie's tag-line, "Before There Was Punk, There Was ..." Actually there was dissonant rock music of all stripes prior to and during Death's short existence. The doc's failure to put Death in historical context, quite apart from its failure to define punk rock in the first place, inclines me to knock a star off. If you're going to make a historical claim, you gotta back it up.

    The doc is much better at describing how unlikely their music was, coming from three African-Americans in Motor City, no less. Band leader David was clearly a rebellious spirit, who, when told he should be doing a "Motown" style, stuck with his bombastic hard rock guns. He and his brothers were also told that they needed to change the band's name. David's response? No. The "No" finally cost them a $20,000 recording contract with Arista Records. (Now THAT'S punk.
    Read more ›
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