By: Holly Interlandi
December 4, 2023

One in a series of 25 enthusiastic posts, contributed by 25 HILOBROW friends and regulars, on the topic of proto-punk records from the Sixties (1964–1973, in our periodization schema). Series edited by Josh Glenn. Also check out our proto-punk playlist (a work in progress) at Spotify.


…For the Whole World to See is a 2009 studio album by Death, consisting of various demos recorded in the 1970s.

DEATH | “ROCK-N-ROLL VICTIM” | recorded 1973

Like so many others, I didn’t discover Death until their delayed documentary a decade and a half ago (that is a lot of Ds). But listening to the frantic thrash of …For the Whole World to See hit such a chord with me it was almost like living through it. Angry, plugged in, and so ominous (and anti-mainstream) that the world ignored the songs until 30 years later, when their demos were discovered and finally given wide release.

So many tracks from those 1973 recordings could be the subject of an essay: “Freakin Out,” “Let The World Turn,”, “Politicians In My Eyes.” My pick, though, is “Rock-N-Roll Victim.”

Frantic drum beats. Riffs like sludgy electric slabs, like determined vermin descending into dark matter while grating against existence. Like something you’d find on an old cassette buried at the back of your brother’s closet. It truly rocks.

But for me, the words are the true revelation: verses full of snarky accusations of obsession and distraction. As a rockstar-obsessed teenager, I had heard every single one of them.

The only world that ain’t dull is your own. And that’s a room inside of your parents’ home!

“Want to come downstairs and join the land of the living?”

Dads, sisters, visitors, Moms like hall monitors waiting outside the door to my safe haven, walls plastered with musicians of every ilk.

The wall is covered with the stars you know. You just can’t live without your stereo!

“Can we please turn off the music for once?”

Might as well be asking to turn off my air supply.

We love to say things that we really feel. Sometimes we see things that aren’t really real!

“Do those rockstars keep you from living in the real world?”

Hearing this song for the first time was like getting a long-delayed echo of the alienation of high school: rotating songs in the car stereo with my sisters, going on road trips to shows that never came to my town, writing essays and short stories about people I’d never and would never meet.

Then, the chorus.

You’re a rock’n’roll victim and I know this is true, cause I’m a rock’n’roll victim too.

A surreal balm for my then-30-year-old brain. It was a voice I always needed to hear, but never got.

“I get you. You’re insane and you collect tapes and videos and CDs and bootlegs and stickers and you never stop thinking about stage tape or distortion pedals, and I get you.”

I’m a rock’n’roll victim too.

How did a proto-punk song speak to me so well that many years later?

It was an explosion of truth. Sometimes that bare vitality is so loud and universal that it lasts past uninterested record moguls and a sad, biased world, past analog and digital into rebirth, recognition, and a message that gives solace to a once-teenager who needed to hear it.


STOOGE YOUR ENTHUSIASM: INTRODUCTION by Josh Glenn | Mandy Keifetz on The Trashmen’s SURFIN’ BIRD | Nicholas Rombes on Yoko Ono’s MOVE ON FAST | David Cantwell on ? and the Mysterians’ 96 TEARS | James Parker on The Modern Lovers’ SHE CRACKED | Lynn Peril on The Pleasure Seekers’ WHAT A WAY TO DIE | Lucy Sante on The Count Five’s PSYCHOTIC REACTION | Jonathan Lethem on The Monkees’ YOUR AUNTIE GRIZELDA | Adam McGovern on ELP’s BRAIN SALAD SURGERY | Mimi Lipson on The Shaggs’ MY PAL FOOT FOOT | Eric Weisbard on Frances Faye’s FRANCES AND HER FRIENDS | Annie Zaleski on Suzi Quatro’s CAN THE CAN | Carl Wilson on The Ugly Ducklings’ NOTHIN’ | Josh Glenn on Gillian Hill’s TUT, TUT, TUT, TUT… | Mike Watt on The Stooges’ SHAKE APPEAL | Peter Doyle on The Underdogs’ SITTING IN THE RAIN | Stephanie Burt on Pauline Oliveros’s III | Marc Weidenbaum on Ornette Coleman’s WE NOW INTERRUPT FOR A COMMERCIAL | Anthony Miller on Eno’s NEEDLES IN THE CAMEL’S EYE | Gordon Dahlquist on The Sonics’ STRYCHNINE | David Smay on The New York Dolls’ HUMAN BEING | Michael Grasso on the 13th Floor Elevators’ YOU’RE GONNA MISS ME | Holly Interlandi on Death’s ROCK’N’ROLL VICTIM | Elina Shatkin on Bobby Fuller’s I FOUGHT THE LAW | Brian Berger on The Mothers of Invention’s WHO ARE THE BRAIN POLICE? | Peggy Nelson on The Kingsmen’s LOUIE LOUIE.




Enthusiasms, Pop Music, Punk