Heatwave ‘Central Heating’ (BBR) 4/5

heatwaveFollowing up on the hugely successful debut album, Heatwave embarked upon stamping their very own brand of Brit funk on the world and the result was this excellent release from 1978. Produced by Barry Blue and recorded in London, it has a slightly grittier feel than the first which was aimed squarely at the US market. A first single, ‘The Groove Line’, available here in shorter and longer 12″ versions, hit the spot and was a classic slice of disco with those Rod Temperton keyboards, thumping drums and hand claps. Yet it is the sublime harmonies that win the day here. This scored just outside the UK pop top ten, but was a top three R & B hit. The rest of the album veers between classy mid-tempo and ballads, and out-and-out dancers. A personal favourite is the harmony-driven number ‘Send out for sunshine’ that once again demonstrated Temperton’s compositional prowess and a first interpretation of a song that George Benson would late cover, ‘The star of a story’, and the original here has a terrific atmospheric intro and falsetto lead vocals. Quincy Jones describes Temperton thus in his autobiography: ‘Rod ‘Worms’ Temperton is one of the best songwriters who ever lived, and with the melodic contrapuntal gifts and instincts of a classic composer’. Praise indeed. In an altogether more romantic vein, ‘Mind Blowing Decisions’ broke new ground for Heatwave and indicated that they were far more than a good time boogie band. This was the stronger single Stateside and went top ten pop and hit the number two spot on the R & B charts.
Everything about the album from the iconic black background of the album cover reeks class and the matching insignia on the band member jumpers illustrated the collective unity of the group. A fine re-issue and a key moment in the evolution of British funk.

Tim Stenhouse