Spiritual Mental Physical
02. The Masks
03. The Change
04. World Of Tomorrow
05. Can You Give Me A Thrill???
06. People Look Away
07. The Storm Within
08. David's Dream (Flying)
09. Bobby Bassing It
10. Dannis On The Motor City Drums
Bass, Vocals – Bobby Hackney
Drums – Dannis Hackney
Guitar – David Hackney
After unearthing a legit lost classic in Detroit garage rock band Death's 2009 collection, For the Whole World to See, Drag City offers a sequel.
Pairing R&B chops with scorching, Stooges-worthy bashing, Death's mid-1970s demos-- compiled and released by Drag City as For the Whole World to See-- lived up to every bit of their missing-link and lost-classic billing when they finally arrived, more than three decades late, in 2009. Spiritual, Mental, Physical-- a follow-up collection of grotty practice tapes and studio goofs culled from a set of tape reels recently unearthed in a Detroit basement-- is a bit less awe-inspiring.
To be fair, For the Whole World to See set a high bar. By the time they hit the studio, Bobby, David, and Dannis Hackney-- a trio of Detroit-based, African-American brothers who temporarily set aside their Motown roots for steam-rolling proto-punk after checking out an Alice Cooper concert-- had their chops down pat. During their original, five-year lifespan, Death didn't make many waves. A self-released 7"-single, "Keep on Knocking" b/w "Politicians in My Eyes", was the group's only official release. It quickly faded into the record collector-ether. But listening now, the music sounds visionary-- a missing link between MC5 and the hardcore punk of the early 1980s. The songs are performed at blistering speed, burbling over with bad attitude. Death were not messing around. In just 27 minutes and seven songs, the trio made a potent argument for its place on punk's Mount Olympus.
But Spiritual, Mental, Physical is the sound of the band figuring out its chops one freewheeling basement jam at a time. The takes are raw-- most of them recorded live to two-track tape in the band's practice space. They're loose and, frequently, unfocused. In a few instances, Death's brilliance is clearly evident. "Views", a choogling riff-rocker that kicks off the collection, wouldn't have sounded out of place on For the Whole World to See. "The Masks" explodes with heavy-metal thrashing, but quickly dials back the fury for a verse lifted directly from the Beatles' "Got to Get You Into My Life". The song's main trick-- leap-frogging back and forth between mellow melodies and full-bore grind-- is one that the band would put to more polished use on songs like "Let the World Turn" and "Politicians in My Eyes", from the For the Whole World to See sessions.
But the record's B-side is padded with less revelatory material-- solo-instrumentals, psychedelic asides, and half-finished song ideas. Aside from "The Storm Within", a garage-leveling three-minute freak-out, it's mostly unremarkable. If anything the collection proves that Death were not produced into existence during a handful of studio sessions. Even goofing off in the practice space, their musicianship is clear, even if their vision hadn't totally solidified. The majority of Spiritual, Mental, Physical was recorded in a practice space, with no intention of public release. It's a collection of unguarded, unconsidered moments. On For the Whole World to See, Death were getting down to business. Here, they're having a good time.