Given some of the redevelopment issues that formed one of the major plot lines for the Treme TV series, you’d possibly have thought someone would have picked up on the idea that The Specials’ Ghost Town is a rather obvious fit for post-Katrina New Orleans, The Hot 8 shift it firmly into the casbah with a Moroccan intro that has virtually nothing to do with conventional N’Awlins notions but works just fine anyway when they start ragging on the theme and bring it back home.

Issues with heroin come up in Let Me Do My Thing as Hot 8 trombonist Tyrus Chapman addresses the war on drugs in a righteous spray that blends elements of soul, jazz, hip hop and reggae, but the rap towards the end might tempt the rap-averse listener to press the shuffle button. In my case the sentiments are sufficiently righteous to avert that, but mileages may vary.

The shuffle button will almost invariably come into action if it’s within reach when Skit comes around, not that I’ve got anything against a band shooting the breeze in the studio, you understand, but there are some things that fit into the programming but don’t necessarily float your boat when you remove them from that context.

The context, however, is fairly obvious when you get to War Time, a blast of infectiously catchy, percussive sound, with blaring horns, snappy drums, whoops, hollers and handclaps in a fusion of traditional jazz, Parade music, R&B, funk and Afro-Cuban elements that winds things up in the best way possible, leaving the listener looking for more.

The Life and Times Of ... delivers nine slices of prime twenty-first century New Orleans music that couldn’t be cut any way other than live in the studio, with a definite sense of community that invokes a tradition of marching band music that stretches back well over a century to the pre-jazz era. The Hot 8 matches a brassy blast of joyous grooves with Dixieland, jazz, R&B, rock, funk, Afro Cuban and hip-hop elements to produce something that’s simultaneously contemporary and traditional, a great expression of second line fonk.

It is, according to reports, half of a pigeon pair of albums, with the sequel apparently intended as a more reflective tribute to fallen friends delivered through a collection of traditional brass band material. That’s a prospect I’m looking forward to with considerable anticipation, though Tombstone, due 20 May doesn’t, judging by the track listing (there isn’t too much that’s recognisable about the names, anyway) doesn’t seem to be too traditional.

The preorder will, however, be going in regardless...

© Ian Hughes 2012