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Brand New Heavies
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  • The Brand New Heavies: Jan Kincaid (vocals, keyboards, drums); Jay Ella Ruth, Linda Muriel (vocals); Lascelles Gordon (guitar, percussion, background vocals); Simon Bartholomew (guitar, background vocals); Mike Smith (saxophone, horns, background vocals); Jim Wellman (saxophone, background vocals); Colin Graham, Gerard Presencer (trumpet, background vocals); Dennis Rollins (trombone, background vocals); Ceri Evans, Max Beesley (keyboards, background vocals); Andrew Levy (bass, background vocals).
  • Producers: The Brand New Heavies, Godwin Logie.
  • ORIGINAL FLAVA contains rare outtakes and unreleased tracks.
  • The Brand New Heavies' fusion of retro funk and energetic jazz propelled their eponymous 1991 debut to levels of artistic and commercial success that subsequently eluded them on solid follow-ups like Brother Sister. Unsurprisingly, when the choice was made to mine their early sessions for unreleased material, the resulting compilation became the group's most consistently enjoyable effort since The Brand New Heavies. The bulk of Original Flava was recorded in 1990, around the same time N'dea Davenport contributed her dynamic vocals to the versions of "Never Stop" and "Dream Come True," which bolstered the debut. Lead singer/songwriter/keyboardist/drummer Jan Kincaid doesn't have Davenport's pipes, but his understated croon and light touch successfully recast "Never Stop" in a lounge-jazz arrangement that retains only the seductive bassline from his Top Five R&B hit. "Dream Come True" is one of three inclusions recorded with Linda Muriel for Chrysalis in 1988, and she invests her co-composition with an emotional intensity equal to Davenport's interpretation. Elsewhere, the band flexes its improvisational muscle on the Crusaders-inspired "Country Funkin'" and the adventurous live version of "Headhunters," which features Gerard Presencer on trumpet. As with other Heavies compilations, one could fuss over the missed opportunity to gather non-album favorites such as their U.K. Top 20 version of "Midnight at the Oasis," but the adherence to earlier tracks results in a cohesiveness not often experienced on collections of demos or outtakes. Unlike most assemblages of its type, Original Flava does not need to be programmed to sequence a few highlights; it is exceptionally engaging from start to finish. ~ Vince Ripol
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