Playing it safe
Reviewed November 2006
Get Used to It
By The Brand New Heavies
Delicious Vinyl: 2006
To hear sound clips or learn more about this release, Turbula recommends viewing its Amazon.com entry.
Once aggressive and experimental, the Brand New Heavies have dialed the attitude way back on their latest release. It's more like a Boys II Men release than the meeting ground between jazz, rap and funk earlier efforts pioneered.
Even having star vocalist N'Dea Davenport back in the fold with the The Brand New Heavies' original lineup (Simon Batholomew, guitars; Andrew Love Levy, bass; Jan Kinkaid, drums and keyboards) isn't enough to overcome the timid material.
Which isn't to say this is a bad album it's just not a great Brand New Heavies album, which is what we've come to expect.
For starters, the hip hop and rap elements from earlier albums are gone. No outfit did a better job of synthesizing these supposed "outlaw" elements into a jazz-oriented artistic environment.
And there's nothing to replace that sense of urgency the rap and hip hop brought. All the edginess is gone, leaving a very nice, very pleasant soul outing something Tower of Power or War might have produced during one of their recurring reunions. But that unique blending of urban rhythms, classic soul/funk smoothness and a jazz underpinning of sophistication that defined who the Brand New Heavies are is missing.
Review by Jim Trageser. Jim is a writer and editor living in Escondido, Calif., and was a contributor to the "Grove Press Guide to Blues on CD" (1993) and "The Routledge Encyclopedia of the Blues" (2005).