Ben Blackwell uncovers the earliest known review of the band Death

This will either be super exciting news, or mean hardly anything at all to you. On Friday evening, via his blog Tremble Under Boom Lights, Ben Blackwell posted that he'd uncovered a review in the fanzine Ballroom Blitz of the Detroit-based proto-punk act Death's first 7", "Politicians In My Eyes," from back in the day. 

So what? Isn't that just what fanzines did back then, review underground records? Yes, but very much of the narrative for the story of Death is that they were entirely ignored, not written about, in their own time. Blackwell, a musician and scholar, discusses the discovery as follows:

My current obsession has been old zines from Detroit and Michigan. Ballroom Blitz always seems to be a cut above the rest, but I still found myself surprised when Mike McDowell's Classics Revisited column in the March 1977 issue #19 included this little blurb about Death.

In underground punk collecting world, it was always presented that NO ONE knew anything about this band while they were together. The A Band Called Death documentary seems to echo this assumption as well. So to see it reviewed, within months of its release, feels special. The fact that McDowell 100% gets where the record is coming from is just a bonus. Nevermind that it erroneously attributes the label to Frank Freed in Chicago...this just goes to show you that some folks were hip to Death at the moment. Keep on rockin'.

About The Author

Mike McGonigal

Metro Times music editor Mike McGonigal has written about music since 1984, when he started the fanzine Chemical Imbalance at age sixteen with money saved from mowing lawns in Florida. He's since written for Spin, Pitchfork, the Village VOICE and Artforum. He's been a museum guard, a financial reporter, a bicycle...
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