It's hard to listen to a track like the newly unearthed “North Street” from Death without hearing the alternate history that could have been. What would punk have sounded like had Columbia records followed through and released the Hackney brothers music in the mid-70's? How would the movement have flourished with Death as one of its leading lights?
It's an all-too-common punk rock narrative for a band to exist, record a bunch of influential songs in a short burst before imploding completely. (I'm looking at you, Rites of Spring and to a lesser degree and also begrudgingly the Sex Pistols) But for the trio of brothers, the dissolution of their contract with Columbia didn't break up the family. Although the band Death officially broke up in 1977, the Hackneys continued on through the 80's as The 4th Movement. “North Street,” the first look at their post-Columbia career, comes from 1980 after the band relocated to Vermont.
By Nathan Leigh, AFROPUNK Contributor
Featuring a tighter sound and post-punk influence, “North Street” serves as further evidence why the world continues to be captivated by Death's story. The could have been, should have been, and now nearly are rock stars never quit evolving and pushing their music forward even when mainstream success continued to elude them. They are the ultimate story of second chances in punk rock. And as anyone who caught their electrifying set at Afropunk Fest 2013 can attest, no-one deserves it more.
The song will appear on a new compilation of Death's music from Drag City due out this April. Given the band formed after seeing the Beatles appear on Ed Sullivan, it's especially poignant to have their new single drop this week on the 50th anniversary of that appearance.