Brand New Heavies

Brand New Heavies

    Formed in the mid-80s by guitarist Simon Bartholemew, drummer/keyboardist Jan Kincaid and bassist Andrew Levy, the Brand New Heavies began as an instrumental group heavily influenced by the soul and funk sounds of the 60s and 70s, with a particular fondness for James Brown and the Meters. They played around London for years and gathered a local following as a hot young funk/soul/acid jazz band before recruiting Atlanta-based singer N'Dea Davenport and a tight horn section for their eponymous 1991 debut album, on Delicious Vinyl Records. The disc took off around the world, fueled by the smash hit "Never Stop," which nearly topped the US charts - a rare feat for a British soul act.

    The Heavies followed the next year with the ambitious Heavy Rhyme Experience: Vol. 1, on which they teamed with a number of popular rappers to provide a funky set of live grooves. They arguably hit a creative peak two years later with Brother Sister, a wonderful album that included the big hits "Dream On Dreamer" and "Spend Some Time."

    The group's popularity slipped as musical tastes shifted in mid 90s, and Davenport exited to pursue a modestly successful solo career. Quincy Jones protégé Seidah Garrett (a fine singer and songwriter) then took the vocal lead for the group's Shelter, a worthy album that unfortunately didn't generate the buzz of their earlier efforts.

    The Heavies continued to tour over the next few years, but didn't again release a major album. Then, in early 2006, Davenport rejoined the group for Get Used to It (again on Delicious Vinyl), the first disc in a decade by the most popular lineup of the Brand New Heavies.

    By Chris Rizik

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