People are doing traditional-style reviews all over the web, so we decided to try something different. In each “breakdown” we’ll take a look at what a film’s marketing lead us to believe, how the movie actually played, and then what we learned from it all. Read on!
When Drag City released Death’s cobbled together album For The Whole World To See it was a revelation in terms of early punk. Nothing that sounded like this had really been discovered and the fact that it was blasting out of the amps of a trio of black brothers from Detroit made it all the more exciting. A documentary chronicling the history of an album this awesome is sure to be awesome just because of its proximity to so much awesomeness. Right?
Turns out that sometimes a good album comes from a really simple, pretty boring story. In the 70s, three brothers from a slightly musical family decided that they wanted to make music. One of the brothers was a bit of a savant, started blasting some pretty weird shit, and voila a band popped out. Unfortunately that band was called Death and no one in their right mind wanted to attempt to change the face of music with a punk trio, before the word even existed, from Detroit. Bad things happen, the music disappears, someone finds the music, the band gets big again, blah blah blah blah. It’s a great story, a story that’s defined a million musical rediscoveries (especially as of late) and one that seemingly every musical documentary in the last five years has hit upon. I’m not saying that A Band Called Death isn’t a heartfelt tale of three dudes making good on their abilities as musicians (though I can’t say that ending up as a reggae band counts as “making good”…), but it’s really just that. Call this film a victim of enormous expectations, but we’ve seen a lot at this point in the history of the music documentary and, well, I think I was just expecting to see more.
Elijah Wood is, if this movie tells the truth, as musically respectful as Henry Rollins, Jello Biafra, and ?Love. Somebody close my mouth, there’s flies getting in it.
A Band Called Death is available now on VOD.