Their spirited mash-up of R&B, jazz, funk and soul spawned a new movement in music called Acid Jazz and it was not long before they became a musical institution.
Two years shy of their Silver Anniversary and seven years since their last release, the multi-platinum selling super-group are back with Forward, their debut on Shanachie Entertainment.
The Heavies re-emerge triumphant and in top form with original collaborator N’Dea Davenport and new British vocalist, Dawn Joseph, picking up the baton on several tracks. Founding member, drummer and keyboardist, Jan Kincaid, also graces us with his vocals as well as stirring up The Brand New Heavies potent instrumental elixir with fellow founding members, guitarist Simon Bartholomew and bassist Andrew Levy. Simply stated, Forward is tight! Complete with chest-thumping bass lines, hard swingin’ break neck tempos and sweat-inducing grooves, Forward serves up an intoxicating brew of funkified soulful, jazzy and dance driven numbers with killer arrangements. The album’s first singe is “Sunlight” featuring N’Dea Davenport. The Brand New Heavies have outdone themselves, proving to their fans it was worth the wait. “We are really excited to be releasing the new Brand New Heavies album,” states Shanachie General Manager, Randall Grass. “They are icons who were instrumental in creating a musical movement and at the same time are unique. Best of all, the new album sounds like one of the best of their career. The release of this album will truly be an event.”
Over the past two decades, The Brand New Heavies have scored many of the UK’s biggest R & B/soul tracks, garnering 16 Top 40 singles including “Dream On Dreamer” and “You’ve Got A Friend.” Conceived in the London suburb of Ealing in 1985, the band’s name was selected in tribute to the Godfather of Soul, James Brown, who was once billed as the ‘Minister of New Super Heavy Funk’. “We supported him at Wembley once,’ recalls Bartholomew. “We were sound checking and James Brown arrives…dressed in this amazing olive green suit with a sort of Kentucky Fried Chicken tie. We jammed in front of him. He was like ‘you guys sound great.’ It was mind-blowing for us because he basically invented funk.”
The Brand New Heavies debut single, “Got To Give,” came out on Cooltempo before the band signed to Acid Jazz Records and released Brand New Heavies in 1990. In America, signed to the Delicious Vinyl label, they started to garner major attention, which became amplified when they united with singer N’Dea Davenport. Having made her name in Los Angeles, where she’d headed with $300 in her pocket after leaving her native Atlanta, she continued her travels to London after Eurythmic Dave Stewart offered her a solo record deal which she did not take but instead joined the Heavies. Their eponymous debut album, re-issued with Davenport’s vocals, took off around the world in 1992, fueled by the hits “Never Stop,” “Stay This Way” and “Dream Come True.” Inspired by a show with MC Search (3rd Base) and Q-Tip, The Brand New Heavies’ next recording found them collaborating with MCs Main Source, Gang Starr, Grand Puba and the Pharcyde.
Their critically heralded 1994 album, Brother Sister, featured the hits “Dream On Dreamer,” “Back To Love” and “Spend Some Time,” which soared all the way to #4 on the UK chart, turning platinum in the process. It also contained their biggest chart single to date, the #13 smash “Midnight At The Oasis.” This cover of the 1974 Maria Muldaur hit became a UK radio staple but was never released Stateside.
Davenport’s departure in 1994 to complete a long-delayed solo album didn’t derail the Heavies. Their next vocal collaborator was Siedah Garrett, a long-time associate of Quincy Jones, who at the time had recently toured with Michael Jackson, duetting with him for “I Just Can’t Stop Loving You” and co-writing “Man In The Mirror.” As part of the band, Garrett co-wrote their Top 20 hit “Sometimes,” which peaked at #11 in the UK and helped propel the next album, Shelter, to #5 on the charts. The album also included Carole King’s “You’ve Got A Friend,” which made it to Top 10. Good friend Carleen Anderson (daughter of James Brown vocalist Vicki Anderson), of Young Disciples fame, picked up where Garrett left off soon afterwards, happily contributing to Trunk Funk – The Best of The Brand New Heavies. Her revamped version of “Apparently Nothing” (a hit for her previous group in 1991) joined “Saturday Nite” as Top 40 singles. After a short hiatus the group re-emerged in 2006 with a new album called Get Used To It featuring N’Dea Davenport, prompting Billboard to proclaim Davenport “one of the seven wonders of the world… she doesn’t just sing lyrics…she inhabits them.”
With the release of Forward, it is clear The Brand New Heavies are in Forward motion and unstoppable. Get on board.
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