Central Heating

by: Heatwave

If you could use only one adjective to describe Heatwave's sound, it would be "smooth." The band's romantic ballads and slow jams were the epitome of smooth, and that adjective also describes many of their up-tempo funk grooves. This isn't to say that Heatwave's funk lacked grit -- it had plenty of grit, but even so, it was an undeniably smoother style of funk than Parliament/Funkadelic, James Brown, Tower of Power, Rick James, or the Bar-Kays. In fact, when Kool & the Gang switched to a smoother, sleeker approach in 1979 and hired J.T. Taylor as its new lead vocalist, Heatwave was a big influence. The Kool & the Gang that emerged on 1979's Ladies' Night is certainly a lot more Heatwave-like than the gutbucket, down-and-dirty Kool & the Gang of "Jungle Boogie" and "Hollywood Swinging." And it isn't hard to hear the parallels between Taylor and Heatwave's Johnnie Wilder. It's safe to assume that when Kool & the Gang was reinventing itself, its members had Too Hot to Handle and Central Heating in their collections. With this excellent sophomore effort, Heatwave lived up to the promise it showed on Too Hot to Handle. The invigorating funk smash "The Groove Line" became a disco-era anthem, and the album's other big hit, "Mind Blowing Decisions," is a quiet-storm classic. From up-tempo funk grooves like "Party Poops" and "Put the Word Out" to the romantic Northern soul of "Happiness Togetherness" and "Leaving for a Dream," Central Heating is among Heatwave's strongest releases. ~ Alex Henderson

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