Let’s go back to love with The Brand New Heavies, but don’t forget to send your camel to bed!
Simon Bartholomew, Andrew Levy, Jan Kincaid, Lascelles Gordon and Ceri Evans formed Funk/Soul/Jazz/Pop band, The Brand New Heavies, in 1985. But it took some time and some major line up changes before the group finally found success in the mid-1990’s. Formed in London, The Brand New Heavies spent their initial years touring and supporting other acts before signing to Cooltempo Records in the late 1980’s and releasing a couple of singles that didn’t do very well. The band recorded and released their self-titled debut album in 1990, which featured the lead single, “Dream Come True”, and “Never Stop”. The album and both singles featured the vocals of N’Dea Davenport (b.1966), who would become the most recognised of all the singers to front the group although both songs were met with only limited commercial success.
“Dream Come True” was re-issued at the beginning of 1992 and with heavy promotion, it broke the UK singles chart, peaking at No.24. More importantly, “Dream Come True” became a ‘small’ hit on the US R&B chart. Their success Stateside was sealed with the next track, “Never Stop”, which reached No.3 there and paved the way for the album itself to register on the charts there. Their “Ultimate Trunk Funk” EP of 1992 saw the band enter the UK top twenty for the first time, while the album would settle in the top thirty, followed by two further top chart hits, “Don’t Let It Go To Your Head” and “Stay This Way”, later that same year. 1992 was a busy year for The Brand New Heavies, which saw the release of the short album, “Heavy Rhyme Experience, Vol. 1”, peaking at No.139 in America and No.38 in the UK.
Bartholomew, Levy, Kincaid, Gordon and Davenport set about writing and recording their best known work during 1993 and at the beginning of the following year, released “Dream On Dreamer”, the first taster of their second studio album. The song found a much wider following with the help of radio play on both sides of the Atlantic, which helped it to No.15 in the UK and No.19 on the US R&B chart and No.51 on the singles chart, The album, “Brother, Sister”, would eventually break the top 100 on the US album chart and peak at No.4 in the UK, earning a Platinum disc for sales of 300,000 copies. “Brother, Sister”, would produce three more chart hits and three classic recordings from The Brand New Heavies, “Back To Love” (UK No.23), “Spend Some Time” (UK No.26) and their version of American singer Maria Muldaur’s 1973 US top ten hit, “Midnight At The Oasis”, which they took to No.13 in the UK. Muldaur’s original had peaked at No.21 in 1974. Their success would ultimately earn the band a nomination at the 1995 Brit Awards for Best Dance Act.
Following their track, “Close To You” from the ‘Pret-A-Porter’ film soundtrack and a remix album entitled “Excursions”, N’Dea Davenport left the band to pursue a solo career. The band went into the studio with a new singer, none other than Siedah Garrett, who had topped the chart in 1987 with Michael Jackson on the song “I Just Can’t Stop Loving You”. They emerged in 1997 with the album, “Shelter”, which received another Platinum disc in the UK and also registered on the US album and R&M chart. The album produced another transatlantic hit with “Sometimes” (UK No.11, US R&B No.20) as well as “You Are The Universe” and a cover of Carole King’s “You’ve Got A Friend”, which saw The Brand New Heavies enter the UK top ten for the very first time.
Garrett left the band soon after and another noted singer, Carleen Anderson, joined the fun at the end of 1990’s for the group’s first greatest hits album, “Trunk Funk – The Best of The Brand New Heavies”. As well as peaking top twenty, the compilation featured two top 40 hit singles, “Saturday Nite” and their recording of an earlier Young Disciples (the band that featured Anderson as lead singer) hit, “Apparently Nothing”. Following a break, The Brand New Heavies took to the road and the recording studio in 2003 with the album, “We Won’t Stop” and the single, “What Do You Take Me For?”. They returned to commercial success in 2004 with the follow up, “Allabouthefunk” and the singles, “Boogie” and “Surrender”. 2007’s “Get Used To It”, featured a recording of Stevie Wonder’s 1969 hit, “I Don’t Know Why”. By now N’Dea Davenport had returned to the band for a second stint. She would make guest appearances on more than one occasion since, while Dawn Joseph and Sulene Fleming filled in for the albums “Forward” and “Sweet Freaks” respectively.
Davenport was back for the band’s most recent long player, “TBNH”, in 2019, which featured the singles “Getaway” and “These Walls”, while the band has toured with singer Angela Ricci since 2018, their most recent ending in 2021. Nearly forty years since their inception, The Brand New Heavies are still ‘brand new’ and have more live music and new recordings yet to come. The band’s back catalogue remains timeless and undiminished. So let’s hope they ‘never stop’!
Stay in touch with The Brand New Heavies