Wednesday, 10 December 2014

The Brand New Heavies ''You've Got A Friend'

Chart Peak: 9
Carole King's 'You've Got A Friend' was originall a hit for James Taylor in 1971... It is Brand New Heavies' 12th and biggest Top 40 hit, reaching No. 9 in October '97, and features the spiritual vocals of Siedah Garrett.
It's unlikely to be a coincidence that we get two songs associated with female singer-songwriters of the early 1970s right next to each other. The less obvious connection is that both Janet Jackson and Siedah Garrett have had hit duets with Michael Jackson (on 'Scream' and 'I Just Can't Stop Loving You' respectively). And to square the circle, Brand New Heavies also worked with Q-Tip (on a remix of their hit 'Sometimes').

BNH are a difficult group to place, and not only because nobody seems entirely sure whether to call them Brand New Heavies or The Brand New Heavies. They're legends in the British funk and Acid Jazz scenes of course, but despite a decent haul of hit singles little of their material seems remembered these days, and one suspects that only fans of the genre realise they're still going and indeed released a new album only last month. Two of their three Now appearances are cover versions, and there's no avoiding the fact that this biggest hit of all. It seems quite a self-consciously commercial move to release this track as a single rather than knocking it out as a B-side, and I have to admit it's not a song I'm overly keen on. Worse, it's a very easy song to do a bad version of, with plenty of potential for slush, which is pretty much what we get here. This seems to be aiming for a similar sort of update to 'Got Till It's Gone' but in practice it's just not there, and we get  a sentimental ballad with some nice singing and bass. Worst, they don't seem totally convinced themselves. Perhaps it was the record company's idea?

Also appearing on: Now 28, 29
Available on: Shelter

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