HACKENSACK - Up The Hardway (1974) & Give It Some (1996)
Hackensack was a heavy blues/rock group founded in 1969 by vocalist Nicky Moore. Notable for over 400 live performances in little more than two years, including opening the Weeley Festival(Clacton, Essex) and the last night at The Cavern Club, (Liverpool), they were signed initially to Island Records, and released one single, “Moving On” in 1972. After moving to Polydor, one album “Up the Hardway” was released in 1974, after which the group disbanded. A brief re-union in 2017 brought a further album "The Final Shunt" on Audio Archives label. Hackensack took their name from a Theloneous Monk album track, only later realising Monk had named his track after the Hackensack Recording Studios, New Jersey, USA. Hackensack formed in September 1969 from the remaining members of Gas Avenue, professional musicians playing a residency in London’s Leicester Square where singer-songwriter Nicky Moore and bassist Stu Mills brought in guitarist Mick Sweeney and drummer Billy Rankin. Moore, an ex-chorister, was heavily into blues but also took inspiration from Jeff Beck, The Doors and Led Zeppelin. Almost immediately, Rankin left to take up a place with Brinsley Schwarz and was replaced by John Turner on drums but it wasn’t until June 1970 that the group began to get paid work. Mills was replaced by bassist John Restall for a few months but re-joined in March 1971 and, then, signed with Inferno Agency, the band began regular gigging. Sweeney was replaced by Ray Smith in May 1971 and Turner by Martin Bell in November but it was in March 1972 that Hackensack’s ‘final’ line-up was achieved with drummer Simon Fox replacing Bell.
Signed to Island Records, touring became the norm, first with Mott the Hoople’s Rock’n’Roll Circus and later with Free as well as overseas tours in Holland, Germany and Switzerland. Their single ‘Moving On’ written by Mick Ralphs and produced by Muff Winwood was released in November 1972 and became John Peel’s play of the week on Radio 1 but failed to make the top 40. Meanwhile the group played regularly at London’s Marquee Club and The Cavern Club and on the university circuit in support of bigger bands, Status Quo, Supertramp, Uriah Heep, Osibisa, Lindisfarne etc. Pye Records mobile recording studio was at The Cavern Club, Liverpool in May 1973 where Hackensack shared top billing for the last night at the club but no recordings were ever released. Disillusioned with Island Records’ failure to capture their live energy, Hackensack were re-signed to Polydor in July 1973 with a then record-breaking advance against royalties. Their album ‘Up the Hard Way’ was released in March 1974 by which time Mills had quit and been replaced by Paul Martinez. The album’s poor reviews and declining gigs led to the demise of the band in April 1974. Moore subsequently joined Tiger, Samson and Mammoth, drummer Simon Fox moved to Be Bop Deluxe and guitarist Ray Smith (a.k.a. Ray Major) to the British Lions an offshoot of Mott the Hoople. Paul Martinez, who replaced Stu Mills just weeks before the album was recorded, went on to join Paice Ashton Lord for their album "Malice In Wonderland". In the summer of 2017 Nicky Moore and Stu Mills re-united on the Audio Archives label to record a new Hackensack album ‘The Final Shunt’, with Moore’s son Timmy on guitar and Ed Collins on drums.
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