A Band Called Death


Action / Biography / Documentary / Music


Uploaded By: FREEMAN
May 03, 2021 at 11:23 PM


Elijah Wood as Self - Founder of Simian Records
Henry Rollins as Self - musician
Ahmir-Khalib Thompson as Self - musician, The Roots
Alice Cooper as Self / Interviewee
882.07 MB
English 2.0
23.976 fps
1 hr 36 min
P/S 2 / 13

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by plasmic_steve 10 / 10

"If you give them the title to our band, then you might as well give them everything else..."

Write this one up as fiction and no one would buy it. Three black brothers in Detroit back in the early seventies. Their parents come into a chunk of money and buy their music-loving kids the classic bass/guitar/drums rock configuration. David, the band's guitarist and de facto leader, decides that if he can play chords like Pete Townsend and solo like Jimi Hendrix, he'll be capable of making an all-powerful sound. And as with so much of what David proclaimed, he was right.

This movie feels like a pure rock and roll myth, and like all myths, it has its tragic act. The band called Death independently records an amazing album, but they never get the major push they were hoping for. Their extreme (at the time) name is a constant stumbling block. After a long string of rejections, Death hears word that Clive Davis might sign them - but only if they're willing to change their name. Brothers Bobby and Dannis are willing to make the change in a heartbeat, but David - an uncompromising visionary on every level - dismisses the idea without even a moment's consideration, seemingly dooming the band to permanent obscurity.

Eventually the other Hackney brothers move on without David, evolving their sound into a reggae act. In 2000, David ominously delivers their earlier recordings to his brother, telling him to keep them safe because "the world's going to come looking for the Death master tapes someday." He wasn't wrong on that one, either, or this movie wouldn't exist.

As a documentary, "A Band Called Death" is extremely well made. The Hackney brothers provide lively interviews, as do other family members and people connected with the band. Black and white photos from their well-documented studio sessions fill in the visual pieces that home video would handle in a more modern story. The film is paced well, and even though by its very existence you'll realize that the band and its music were ultimately vindicated, there are many nice surprises along the way.  If you're into music (especially hard rock, punk, hardcore, or thrash) and immersive documentaries like "The King of Kong" and "Capturing the Friedmans", you'll need to check this one out as soon as you have the chance.

Reviewed by bburns 9 / 10

What happens when you mix family, faith and punk rock

In the past few years, there have been very good documentaries on great musicians who just missed success. First came "The Devil and Daniel Johnston" about the mentally ill genius of the '80's alt-rock scene. Then "The Story of Anvil" about Canada's greatest forgotten metal band. Then there was last year's Oscar-winning "Searching for Sugarman" about Rodriguez, the '60's folk-pop singer who became an icon in South Africa, but nowhere else. And now there is "A Band Called Death" about an early punk band from Detroit that by rights should have gotten the same recognition as the Stooges or MC5.

Nominally, this is a film about punk rock, but really it's about family. That's because the original line-up of Death was three brothers: Dannis Hackney--a drummer into Alice Cooper; Bobby Hackney--the bassist/lead vocalist who grew up wanting to be like Paul McCartney; and the late David Hackney, a guitarist who successfully tried to create a playing style that was a cross between Pete Townshend and Jimi Hendrix. Dannis and Bobby still reminisce and tell stories about the early days as only family members can. The Hackney family is very close-knit and deeply religious, as well as musical.

It was David who came up with the name of the band and wrote all their songs--many of which had spiritual themes. And it was David who kept them from success during his lifetime. After they recorded their album, they shopped it to all the major labels. Clive Davis of Arista records was ready to sign them if they only changed the name of the group. David refused, and so the band went unsigned. After that, they moved to Vermont where the police would tear down their fliers under the mistaken idea that they were gang-related propaganda. When they did finally change their name, they were still hard-pressed to get gigs because of the religious content of their lyrics. So David left and moved back to Detroit where he developed twin addictions to alcohol and cigarettes, eventually dying of lung cancer in 2000. Meanwhile, Bobby and Dannis formed the reggae band Lambsbread, where religious lyrics are more acceptable.

Fast forward to 2008: Bobby's sons--Bobby Jr, Julian and Urian become aware of these MP3's online from an early hardcore punk band called Death. Already huge punk fans, they (separately) listen to what they think is the best rock music they've ever heard. And when the vocals come in, they realize they're listening to their dad and uncles. So they learn the songs themselves, and form a Death tribute band called Rough Francis. Which inspires Bobby Sr and Dannis to re-form Death with a new guitarist.

As I said in an earlier paragraph, this movie is not so much about the band Death, but the Hackney family. Their love and loyalty towards each other radiates off the screen. One of the main interviewees is their older brother Earl who was not part of the band. They cry when they talk about David. They laugh when they remember what they were like as kids. When their mother dies during filming, we in the audience are nearly as devastated as they are. The only change I would have liked to see would have been interview footage with David. But of course, that doesn't exist, so all we're left with is the awesome music he wrote.

Reviewed by Scott_Mercer 10 / 10

Family, Faith, Art, Spirit, Punk Rock

A bittersweet tale involving the intensity of rock and roll of the wildest, most bracing sort, the vindication of art and the uncompromised vision of a dreamer, an artist like so many, who had to die before the world caught on to his genius.

A heartwarming tale of the strong bonds of family and the unknown surprises lurking in almost all of our pasts.

A film where the heroic role of the rescuers and redeemers is taken up by record collector nerds and glasses-wearing hipsters (YAY!)

A story that, like all the greatest documentaries, is true, but feels so much like a feel-good Hollywood fairy tale that you can't believe it all really happened. But it did.

This is really corny, but hey, when a film is this good, why not indulge in the oldest possible style of film hype: You'll Laugh! You'll Cry! You'll Cheer! Go See A Band Called Death! The Most Feelgood film of the year with the word death in the title!

If you like this, check out "Anvil! The Story of Anvil." Just as tearjerking and entertaining.

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