How to Do a Cover Version

On Wednesday, I got a call from my mate Ian.

“Alright fella. You busy tomorrow night?”

Every ounce of my being wanted to scream: “Thursday night is The Apprentice night. Of course I’m busy!” but I bit my tongue.

“No, why?”

“Fancy coming to see the Hackney Colliery Band with me?”

I do love it when an unexpected offer like this comes out of the blue, and it turns out that love outweighs my love of watching wannabe business folk trying to sell snorkel gear, jet-skis and bijoux boats, and all of the smutty water-sports gags that involves.

And so off I traipsed to Village Underground in Shoreditch, a venue which looks amazing but where seats, a well staffed bar and personal space seemed to be alien concepts. Hipster beards though? Got ’em in abundance, thanks very much.

We stood and watched the support act, whose name I seem to have deliberately obliterated from my mind or I’d warn you to avoid them, unless you like the sort of bland coffee-table acid jazz that went out of fashion with Morcheeba and the Brand New Heavies.

Hackney Colliery Band were a class act though. Promoting their “Sharpener” album, they treated us to a load of songs that I didn’t know but which sounded great, and, as with the The Williams Fairey Brass Band who featured in The Chain recently, a fair amount of unusual cover versions.

These were pretty diverse; there was Kwab’s “Wrong or Right” (no, me neither), Bowie’s “Heroes”, a Prodigy medley (a staple of their live shows, I believe), and then this, an absolute highlight for me:


Hackney Colliery Band – Heart-Shaped Box (Live Version)

I’ve mentioned to a couple of people that I went to see Hackney Colliery Band, and almost without fail their response has been “There isn’t/never has been a colliery in Hackney”. Search them on YouTube and you will inevitably find the same comment posted by some smart arse.

Well, no there isn’t. But then again, there aren’t really any monkeys in the artic, roses aren’t actually made of stone, The Soup Dragons weren’t comprised of Oliver Postgate models, and there is nobody with the surname Smith in The Smiths; if you can get over all of those intellectual hurdles then you can get your head round the idea that they’re not actually a colliery band.

Anyway, I would thoroughly recommend going to see Hackney Colliery Band if you fancy seeing something a bit different, but be warned: as brass bands go, they are very different beast to this lot:


Brighouse & Rastrick Brass Band – The Floral Dance

Since it’s Children in Need night here in the UK, it seems only right and proper that I give you the cover of that done by the much missed host of the aforementioned charity-a-thon, Sir Terry Wogan, yet another sad casualty of 2016, who this week was rightly commemorated by the renaming of the BBC Radio 2 building as “Wogan House”:


Terry Wogan – The Floral Dance

Oh. I almost forgot. Should you wish to “compare and contrast”, here’s the original “Heart Shaped Box”. I expect a 2000 word dissertation on my desk by Monday morning.


Nirvana – Heart Shaped Box

More soon.

PS -I am reliably informed the support act were called “Retrospective For Love”, which I think tells you everything you need to know. Avoid at all costs.

PPS – you can buy the Hackney Colliery Band’s latest album, “Sharpener” here.

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4 thoughts on “How to Do a Cover Version”

  1. The Hackney Colliery Band played a session for 6Music earlier this year and were great fun, I’d love to see them in concert. I’ll give Retrospective For Love a miss though.

    1. Rightly so. And cheers again for the Jesse Winchester suggestion in The Chain. There’s so many songs that get mentioned on The Chain That I don’t know that I’ve liked, but that’s the first that I’ve truly loved and have listened to every day since you mentioned it. More late submissions needed from you, I think!

  2. In these parts, we have Band Pres Llareggub. They play Super Furry Animals covers with guest Welsh-language rappers! And there’s no band pres (brass band) in Llareggub, either. In fact, there’s no such place as Llareggub – Dylan Thomas made it up for Under Milk Wood…

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