Tuesday, March 25, 2008

The Brand New Heavies b/w Siedah Garrett and Nicole Russo!

The Brand New Heavies. Andrew "Love" Levy works the bass. Jan Kincaid owns the drums, with occasional lead vocals. Simon Bartholomew is the guitar machismo. These three together provide a solid wall of jazzy, hip-hop dipped, trippy, smoothed out soul. The cherry on top is the female lead that makes their music really sparkle. Enter three distinct women: N'Dea Davenport, Siedah Garrett, and Nicole Russo.  Davenport is the vocalist who has remained in orbit around the Heavies longest but that doesn't make her cool approach my favorite. Rather it's Garrett (bewitching) and Russo (slick, if raunchy) that have two of the five Heavies LPs I've purchased burning up my boombox and iPod.

Shelter (1997)

Coming off of the acclaim of the Brother Sister LP (1994),and the last (at that time) to feature Davenport, the Heavies were certainly under pressure to deliver the goods. Enter Siedah Garrett, her resume reads as a songwriter, session vocalist, and singer which enabled her to fit into the bottomless funk pit the Heavies were known for.

Her voice filled the music with enthusiasm, injecting life experience into the affirming, complex cuts "Sometimes" and "Stay Gone."
On the glittery "You Are the Universe" and refreshing "Feels Like Right," she puts on her inner romantic. Outside of Garrett's vocal work, the songwriting and composing from the Heavies core of Levy/Kincaid/Bartholomew abound. The title track is a backbone banger of perseverance and pride, the vocals from Kincaid are detached but powerful.

Music Video for "You Are the Universe"

All About the Funk (2004)
Sadly, Garrett only remained for the one record and the males of the Heavies again were left to find another femme fatale to channel their U.K. flavored, U.S. inspired funk. Enter Nicole Russo, who one All Music Guide critic inaccurately described as Fergie-like, when in truth she has more in common with a Joss Stone or Nikka Costa.

On this album, the Heavies don their slickest sound, Russo's bouncy sex appeal (vocally) was the raw contrast. On the delightfully sassy and booty wriggling, "Boogie" Russo is a focused assailant to a double-crossing player. She manages to get reggae and emotionally pleading on the oft-covered song "Many Rivers to Cross" before slipping back into her strut shoes for the closing stomper "How We Do It."

From the Heavies core, we get some interesting contemporary and retro blending sonically. The hip-hop element is prominent here, not as heavy (no pun intended) as the Heavy Rhyme Experience: Vol. 1 LP (1992), but playfully kicked up a notch or two in the sampling and mixing elements. There is also a hilarious skit that closes "How We Do This," where Russo gives birth to a CD, and Levy comments: "I've never,ever seen a baby that color before!"

Music Video for "Boogie"

Overall, these records are really are just astonishing. I've been listening to them non-stop since I purchased each one. While I love the Davenport LPs Brother Sister (1994) and Get Used to It (2006), the latter contains one of my favorites Heavies jams "Love Is," I just think that Garrett and Russo deliver more interesting vocals to the Heavies sound.-QH


RhythmicSoul said...

Ive only known and loosely followed them when theyve had Ndea with em, so i just got learned lol..thanks Q..im definately feeling Seidia Garrett's voice and look..its all sassy and what not, im definately gonna check out more of their stuff with her, and ur right..i love that video lol

S. Flemming said...

Siedah did fit into their sound very well. "Shelter" was the only album by them I actually bought. I had hoped she'd stick around but I guess it wasn't to be. I kind of thought that album was ahead of its time. N'Dea's solo album was alright, but nothing to write home about.

RhythmicSoul said...

ahem..correction..im rollin with nicole..her voice is right up my alley..thanks for adding their names above the videos lol

Anonymous said...

Although I must admit that N'Dea is still my favorite, Seida Garret is quite underrated as a vocalist. I forgot how funky and alluring she was! I am unfamiliar with the third lady and look forward to listening to
more Heavies music laced with her vocals.

adeosun78 said...

While I'm not familiar with their work post-Siedah, I must admit that between Siedah and N'dea, I prefer Siedah. While I love N'dea, something about Siedah's voice moves me more. "Stay Gone" and "Feels Like Right" are my joints and she just nails the vocals and the emotion behind it. I really wish that she had done some more work with them. I find that her solo stuff isn't as interesting as the work she did with them. I guess they had the perfect sound to go with her vocal.

Now I'll have to go listen to their work with Russo.