They say don’t judge a book by its cover.
But this is The Hot 8 Brass Band, and this is not a book. On the front of the perspex case it reads ‘20 Years of The Hot 8 Brass Band’, there’s an air of inevitability about it, you just know it’s going to be good. Technically, you’re off the hook. You haven’t judged a book by its cover, you’ve judged a CD by its casing. There’s a big difference.
The first track ‘What’s My Name? (Rock With The Hot 8)’ begins with the raucous ramblings of Bennie Pete, the band leader and roll’s into the famous ‘Rock With the Hot 8’ melody famously sampled by Snoop Dogg.
The album rolls effortlessly through classics, made classic by geniuses and then made classics over again with that easy charm the Hot 8 bring to their tracks. Tracks such as ‘Papa Was a Rolling Stone’ and ‘Sexual Healing’ are songs most artist wouldn’t dare touch for fear of musical sacrilege, but not the Hot 8. It’s impossible, in my opinion, to make songs like that better. But you can make them diverse, different and show them in a different light and the Hot 8 do just that with punchy horns and washboard percussion.
This album is a work of art, a pilgrimage through classic songs, with dotted specs of home-grown originals thrown in along the way. Tracks such as ‘Take It To The House’ are not out of place amongst these gems of greatness.
Finally we land back at home for the Hot 8, ‘New Orleans, After The City’ the grand finale in a spotless catalogue of tracks – ‘there’s just no place like home, got the love for New Orleans, New Orleans’ a fitting lyric to finish 20 Years of The Hot 8 Brass Band.