Rockfire Funk Express – People Save The World/Rockfire Funk Express
by Mat Weir
Stop me if you’ve heard this one before.
In 1964, three young, African-American brothers sat down with their father to watch The Beatles’ first appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show. The next day the eldest brother, David Hackney, found a discarded guitar in the alley and began learning songs.
By 1971, David, Bobby and Dannis Hackney formed the protopunk band, Death. Despite the band’s new version of hardrock and their positive message of love, record labels hated the name, didn’t think it was commercially viable and completely missed the Hackney’s concept of taking something negative and spinning it to the positive.
However, this isn’t about Death. It’s about their soul-side project from 1973, Rockfire Funk Express. While they never released any music whien David Hackney was still alive, RFE recorded two songs, “People Save The World” and “Rockfire Funk Express,” both of which are now available on 7-inch vinyl from Third Man Records.
“People,” the A-side, is a funk-rock tune with socially conscious lyrics driving the way. The self-titled track is a much lighter, breezy instrumental track with the Hackney’s enjoying a jam session.
What I really love about this release is the “What If” factor. It’s amazing to think that such talented musicians with a wide array of musical tastes (besides protopunk and funk, the Hackney brothers would also be in a gospel band, finally settling into a reggae band before Death was discovered in 2009), were so far ahead of their time it would take 30 years for the rest of us to catch up. Thank God we did, too, because the Hackney’s music still sounds fresh, vibrant and powerful.