CD Review of Get Used to It by The Brand New Heavies

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Get Used to It
starstarstarstarno star Label: Delicious Vinyl
Released: 2006
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A lot of today's hip-hop and R&B fans probably don't know the Brand New Heavies from Sly and the Family Stone, it's been so long since their last record (1997's Shelter) - and it wasn't exactly a chart-buster. In fact, hip-hop fans might not know the Brand New Heavies from Sly himself.

And that's a good thing, because this band – after 15 years of seasoning – ranks right up there in the funk pantheon. Of course, where Sly was hard-edged, BNH and its gorgeous, gifted frontwoman N'Dea Davenport is smooth and urbane. Where Sly was American all the way and inventing funk as he went along, BNH fuses its hard-funk grooves with smoother British dance sensibility.

The Heavies' 1990s albums mixed funk and rap with experimental samples. Get Used to It abandons the group's earlier rap ambitions entirely and reaches back even further into soul history to Motown and Memphis, no sweeter than "Don't Know Why I Love You," a classic melody that would have fit perfectly on the radio in 1967 sandwiched between Aretha and Supremes songs. Showing the band still has command of the whole soul oeuvre, that song's followed up by the title track, a thoroughly modern remix a la Nelly Furtado, featuring N'Dea calling-and-responsing with three-part N'Deas in harmony, followed by "Sex God," one hot, sultry jazz-funk fusion. Later on, the crown jewel of the record, "Right On," continues the jazz feel albeit more upbeat, with a protracted sax jam at the end that just won't quit – a page ripped straight from the Maceo Parker's James Brown jam playbook.

Get Used to It is probably destined to the same fate as its predecessors: Critical acclaim and commercial failure. It's a shame, because this band deserves the glory that cheesy, no-talent cardboard cutout singers usually get – singers propped up by phenomenal producers who can barely sing a note, let alone compose one. No matter, you've read this review – now get it before it disappears from shelves to make room for the next Shakira or Pussycat Dolls.

~Mojo Flucke, PhD