Hackney Colliery Band need very little introduction. Since the release of their eponymous debut in 2011, this brass juggernaut have blown their way into the public consciousness, as well as some of the more discerning dance floors, with their cunning cover versions (in particular Africa and No Diggity) and catchy original recordings.
Over the past two years the band have earned themselves an army of loyal fans, including a number of big names, and have played at some very special events indeed. From live collaborations with the late Amy Winehouse and more recently Eliza Doolittle, to headlining the Manchester Jazz and Durham Brass Festivals, and in 2012 being the only fully live band to play at the Closing Ceremony of the London Olympics, they haven’t paused for breath.
Add to that an ongoing partnership with the Roundhouse, a recent Balkan tour where they played to capacity crowds in Slovenia, Kosovo and Montenegro and relentless touring in the UK and Europe, and it becomes obvious why the critics have described them as ‘an inspired musical collision’ (The Times), ‘one of our favourite performers on the London scene today’ (The Upcoming) and ‘the most enjoyable, fun live music I know of’ (The Observer).
With a tongue-in-cheek, yet respectful, nod to the great tradition of British brass bands, Hackney Colliery’s influences are as diverse as the London borough that gave them their name. Mixing rock, afro-beat, hip hop, Balkan beats, contemporary jazz and soul, the new album Common Decency is a uniquely British take on the modern brass band sound. The opener, A Bit Of Common Decency, builds from a delicately brooding intro to an almost punky rock groove, and with its imploring whispers and shouts for ‘a bit of common decency’ sets the tone of the album: by turns polite and forceful, mellow and fiery, energetic and, well, even more energetic. By the closing track, Prodigy Medley (a favourite of club and radio DJs all over the world), the listener can be left with little doubt that HCB’s time has come.
Engineered by the appropriately-named Tristan Hackney (Katy B, Bjork, U2) and mixed by Luke Buttery (Mark Ronson, Alice Russell, Noel Gallagher) at Ray Davies’ Konk studios in North London, Common Decency was recorded almost entirely ‘as live’ with the band all playing in the same room at the same time; a rare and high-risk method indeed, but the only one that could hope to capture the energy and passion of one of HCB’s live shows.
Fortunately, with musicians whose credits include the likes of Bonobo, Cinematic Orchestra and even the Royal Opera House, there was no danger of this compromising the quality or detail of the performances. Add a little extra honk from Melt Yourself Down and Acoustic Ladyland head honcho Pete Wareham on the track Superhero Disco and there is no shortage of virtuoso playing. Which is lucky, because HCB aren’t a simple ‘brass n beats’ groove band. Writers Olly Blackman, Luke Christie and Steve Pretty have between them penned unquestionably the outfit’s strongest material to date – powerful original compositions that sit alongside unexpected drum n bass, soul and hip hop covers; a tour de force of screaming energy and masterly writing. As intricate as it is energetic, as virtuosic as it is passionate, Common Decency marks HCB’s arrival as a leading light in the global brass band scene.
As front-man Steve Pretty puts it, “When we started out back in 2008 our mission was to create a uniquely British take on the modern brass band and to prove that with nothing but some bits of twisted metal, wood and plastic we could get any party started. We’ve had an incredible couple of years and Common Decency is the realisation of those ambitions”.
“great musicians playing some seriously great music.. their razor sharp jazz chops are clear throughout, while the funk comes both heavily and effortlessly… with some scuttling drum’n’bass rhythms supercharging things even further, this is the capital’s contribution to the nation’s brass band tradition. Not a Davey lamp in sight.” 4/5 Songlines Magazine (UK)
“hip-hop beats, funk and jazz collide with a tonne of trombones” The Guardian Guide http://www.theguardian.com/music/2013/sep/06/riot-jazz-brass-band
“Brilliant!” Jamie Cullum, BBC Radio 2 (UK)
“The nine-piece band’s mix of brass and beats has something of the flat-capped pit band, something of raucous New Orleans, plus a dose of East London hipster wit. Sprinkle in ska and Gypsy brass and you’ve got a sound to raise roofs. Inspired by the dance floor success of the Hot 8 and Young Blood Brass Bands, this homegrown alternative blasts out sharp originals and a spirited “Empire State Of Mind”. Are trombones the new electric guitars?” The Times (UK) http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/arts/music/albumreviews/article3874688.ece
”Amazing record!They are somethin’ else!” Huey Morgan, BBC 6Music (UK)
“Common Decency is the band’s opportunity to prove that they’re deserving of the expectation heaped upon them, that they’re not a gimmick band but a musical endeavor with some longevity. And it does that with some skill. There’s a richer variety of textures here than on their debut, more careful thought at work. In short they find a good balance between giving people what they want – instrumental music that’s easy to get hold of thanks to it’s rampant energy – and demonstrating an eagerness to move forward and try new things.” Shout4music.com http://www.shout4music.com/albums-eps/hackney-colliery-band-common-decency
“A brass juggernaut who’s climbing the ranks around England, earning an army of loyal fans and racking up collaborations with greats like the late Amy Winehouse. They describe their music as “tongue-in-cheek yet respectful nod to great tradition of British Brass,” a mix of rock, Afro-beat, hip-hop, and, of course, brass jazz. This new album, Common Decency, goes from seriously jazzy (“Creeping Around After Dark”) to the ridiculous upbeat cover of Empire State of Mind. Words like energetic, virtuosic, passionate are best mixed in when talking about their music.” Indieshuffle.com http://www.indieshuffle.com/hackney-colliery-band-all-of-the-lights
“Hackney Colliery Band have pretty much smashed it…implausibly infectious…pretty irresistible and if you manage to remain stationary whilst listening to it, you’ve got a heart of stone.” thefourohfive.com http://thefourohfive.com/review/article/hackney-colliery-band-common-decency
“It’s just so damn cool” New Dawn Indie (UK) http://newdawnindie.com/2013/08/26/hackney-colliery-band-lights/
“With playful drum’n’brass covers like Goldie’s ‘Inner City Life’ and a ‘Prodigy Medley’ peppering this vibrant album, you can play guess the groove and do your best James Brown shoe shuffling.” Buzz (UK)
“Wow! This is such a good album! It’s going directly into heavy rotation here at the station as well as my two specialty shows (Radio Phoenix). Thank you immensely and I look forward to continuing to support all of your endeavors!!” Stephen Hernandez, Radio Phoenix (Arizona, USA)
“What an amazing album! I love the Goldie cover … and the reactions of my audience are overwhelming. Looking forward to more.” Pedo Knopp (LAZY, Frankfurt, Germany)
“Yes yes yes please! They’ve stepped up the recording and writing massively here. Best release from HCB by far for me. And the covers are on point as ever. Full support!” DJ Gilla (First Word Records, UK)
“This album offers an expansion on their unique theme as the band’s writers Olly Blackman, Luke Christie and Steve Pretty have forged the outfit’s toughest metal to date.” Pystol Pete, Eclectic Society (Paris, France) http://eclectic-society.com/jazz-album-review-autumn-brass-brilliance-of-hackney-colliery-bands-common-decency/
“Those that stumble upon Hackney Colliery Band in a similar situation to mine with have no doubt done the same cartoon style double-take, the sound is stunningly colloquial, a strange throwback that is as much an indulgence as it is a curiosity.” Glasswerk.co.uk http://glasswerk.co.uk/magazine/review/10601/Hackney+Colliery+Band/
“HCB have come into their own with this second LP, the original material outshining the clever and playful re-workings, if that’s possible.” Johnny Cush (Shoreditch Radio, UK)
“Really BIG I love it !” Azaxx (Tru Thoughts, France)
“The Prodigy medley has been a secret weapon of mine for a while but when i first heard HCB’s Innercity Life i got goose bumps! Common Decency proves once again why HCB are the best at what they do… DOPE!” Pimpernel Jones, Herma Puma (First Word Records, UK)
“Yes yes yes!” Alex, Keep Up! Records (UK)
“Dead Dialogue is pretty SICK! And a crazy take on Inner City Life. Breakbeat culture is coming back around in London then i suppose? With a less raved out more sophisticated twist…” DJ General Eclectic (Toronto, Canada)
“Been playing the Inner City Life 7″ out so was looking forward to this one… the album didn’t disappoint, quality throughout and I liked the mix of covers and original tracks, top stuff! Nice one!” Dave, My First Moth (UK)
“World Class Real Madrid 100m Euro album! Great release! Full support!” Diesler (Tru Thoughts / Freestyle / Unique / Buried Treasure, UK)
“Been looking forward to this for a little while and has been worth the wait, proper quality! Loving the “Empire State of Mind” version especially. Will play 3 or 4 tracks each week till its released.” DJ Big Red (Kane FM, UK)
“Full support! Nice album!” Hector Pizarro, Chile Con Mix (France)
“I already own most 45s the HCB has released and they get played regularly in my radio show and out at my gigs, so to hear some new stuff and have it in my hands already is killer! I will drop 1-2 tracks off it in my radio show this week and last weekend I dropped both ‘Empire State of Mind’ and ‘Superhero Disco’ in my Saturday night set and they seemed to go down a treat. For me, this release is like the cream on the cake for HCB, a group that seems to go from strength to strength with great reinterpretations and very funkee originals. Has already been on high rotation in my sets and will continue to be so!” DJ Mr Lob (Australia)
“YET another excellent lp from wah wah – “Creeping Around After Dark” gets a spin on this week’s show and more spins VERY soon.” Simon Harrison (basicsoul.co.uk)
“Yes, I’m really into the sound of the HACKNEY COLLIERY BAND!! A great album, love nearly all of the tracks!” Dr. Best, Radio Z 95.8FM (Germany)
“Thank you so much for this treasure! I’ll play some of the tunes at my “45 RPM” radio show on 07.09.2013. Also I’ll feature the album on my website www.dobomarzov.com. The album is just great!” DJ Dobo Marzov (Bulgaria)
“Absolutely next level! ‘All Of My Lights’ is the stand out track for me, what a groove. It’s got an NFL Football vibe to it, I could see my Chicago Bears playing this at Soldier Field Before Kick Off!” DJ Tom Mannix (Canada)
“Ooooff….if you ever need a horns (10/10) and percussion (10/10) based high-octane workout, then this album is the shizzle! A very big sound with very little let-up in the tempo or feel. Feel good factor 10/10, Sweat Factor 10/10. The HCB have captured hip hop, electronic dance and ska amongst many other genres with aplomb. Get this and have some fun. WARNING: Be careful of glass laden hands being thrown into the air and red wine on your carpet!” DJ Kappa (Brighton, UK)
- Huey Morgan (BBC 6Music),
- Craig Charles (BBC 6Music),
- Dr. Best (Radio Z 95.8FM, Germany),
- Nick Armitage (22tracks.com),
- DJ Aja (KetchaVibe, UK) http://aja.podomatic.com/,
- Simon Harrison (basicsoul.co.uk),
- Eastside 89.7FM,
- Virgin Australia’s ‘Big Band’ radio show,
- Shoreditch Radio (UK),
- Josef Sedlon, Radio 1 (Czech Republic),
- Dave Bassin,
- Freefall Radio (USA),
- Phil Levene,
- Eclectic Jazz (Starpoint Radio / Back2Back FM, UK),
- Jason Pulaski (KUCI 88.9FM, USA);
- Nick Gray (Emancipation Show, UK);
- BBC3 Late Junction