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Posted at 12:20 PM ET, 01/18/2011

Album review: Death, "Spiritual Mental Phyiscal"

By David Malitz

deathThe latest collection of unearthed songs from proto-punks Death isn't essential, but still has its moments. (Tammy Hackney)

"For the Whole World to See," a 2009 release by long-forgotten '70s proto-punks Death, was a premier example of why we should be happy to live in the everything-gets-unearthed era. In 1975, African American brothers Bobby, David and Dannis Hackney entered a Detroit studio and recorded seven speedy, scorching songs that built on the garage-rock mayhem of fellow Motor City residents MC5 and the Stooges while predicting the oncoming punk blitz. On the disc, the songs exploded with a wild, pent-up energy, almost as if the music had become self-aware at its laying dormant for three decades.

The new "Spiritual Mental Physical" is more representative of these reissue-crazed times - it's an intriguing-but-inessential collection of deeper rarities that were never intended for release. Recorded during practice sessions both before and after the "World" sessions, it shows a band working through ideas and not always completing them. Sometimes those ideas are lovingly borrowed - "The Masks" is built on a riff and melodies from the Beatles' "Got to Get You Into My Life," while "People Look Away" takes from the Move's "Do Ya." It's the kind of stuff bands tend to do when they think nobody's listening.

"Views" and "Can You Give Me a Thrill?" are turbocharged rockers that will please anybody looking for a "World" sequel, with riffing and pounding that's more about power than precision. It's the handful of softer moments, though, that are the main draw this time around. "The Change" is an instrumental that trades in aggression for mesmerizingly floaty guitar lines, and "World of Tomorrow" is another soft serving of gentle psychedelia, influenced by 13th Floor Elevators' "Easter Everywhere." This material was never intended for all the world to see, but it does show another side to one of rock's great curiosities.

Recommended tracks: "World of Tomorrow," "The Change," "Views"

By David Malitz  | January 18, 2011; 12:20 PM ET
Categories:  Quick spins  | Tags:  Death  
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