I still remember the very first time I heard The Brand New Heavies. It was back in 1992 and my friend Sarah and I were hanging out in a dimly lit coffee shop on a chilly winter night in La Jolla, that often sleepy beach town just north of San Diego, listening to CDs at the music stations which wrapped around the central coffee bar in the shop. I remember that place in particular because it was a rather novel experience for us in 1992…. A place where you could sit on a padded, cracked, black leather bar stool, pull a pair of beefy headphones over your ears and listen to as many CDs as you could handle. As long as you kept buying coffee and picked up the occasional CD of course.
At some point that particular winter night, many cups of coffee into the evening, Sarah leaned over to me, swept her blond hair away from her blue eyes and giggling, said, “You need to listen to this…. it’s super groooooovy. Really funky.” Pushing my headphones off my head, slapping her phones over my ears, she just looked me, smiling, while she skipped to track two, and I got lost in “Dream Come True.” And it may be cliche, but it was a dream come true, that track from their self titled debut. The Heavies were the group that first introduced me to the burgeoning acid jazz and funk scenes that were just taking off. From that point forward there was no way to keep BNH off of heavy rotation and it was that way for many years to come; the soundtrack to many a smokey night filled with laughter and friends.
Skip past track two of that rock solid self titled American debut and step into the end of 2014 and here they are again, this time with Sweet Freaks, another fun collection of funky tunes, this time with some dashes of disco around the edges. Dawn Joseph is the new sultry lead vocalist, a once former backup vocalist for artists like CeeLo and Kylie Minogue, and now very deserving in the spotlight as the group’s new voice, fronting it with a perfect expanded layer on BNH’s trademark grooves. Dawn isn’t trying to replicate previous Heavy, N’Dea Davenport’s also gorgeous sound, and that’s a good thing. Dawn’s sensuous, no-nonsense vocals sound perfect in the mix.
Like this new album as a whole, “Sweet Freeek,” this week’s #tunesday’s choice cut, is best served hot and loud.