City Heat - City Heat (Mini Album)
Preorder - Shipping - 06.05.2022
For RE:WARM 008 we present City Heat - City Heat, a collection of classy British soul that reveals an underexplored period of UK club music. Originally released in the 1988-89‘ Summers Of Love’, this six track selection showcases the new Brit soul sound that would lead to Jazzie B OBE inviting City Heat’s Simon Law to become a key part of the Grammy Award winning Soul II Soul collective. Remastered and released on RE:WARM records.
Born in Trinidad to an Anglican minister (father) and a classically trained professional musician (mother), the brother and sister duo of Simon aka The Funky Ginger and Joanna Law were born surrounded by music. Relocating to the UK as children, they quickly realised what they wanted to do and by 1987, City Heat had been signed to Chrysalis but it was after a meeting with the late Ross Anderson that everything clicked. His Kingly St Basement studio became their lab and the master musician, sound engineer, reggae 45 aficionado, and studio builder became their beloved teacher and collaborator.
The Brit soul scene was a convergence of many influences. US and UK soul, jazz and funk, hip hop, Caribbean sound system culture, and the incredible emerging machine funk of Chicago and Detroit house. Regulars at club nights like Soul II Soul’s Africa Centre sessions, Dance Wicked, The “Do’s” and Norman Jay’s Rare Groove workouts at the Bass Clef in Hoxton, Simon, and Jo wanted to contribute music for this beautifully diverse, vibrant scene.
The swaggering ‘City Heat ’appears as two very different mixes here. The ‘London Kick Mix ’has Joanna’s rich jazzy vocal allied with the classic DX7 bass sound beloved of Gwen Guthrie et al
and a tough mid-tempo rhythm reminiscent of Sly and Robbie with its hard snare and tambourine line. Heavy synth brass stabs punctuate a confidently spare production but it is as warm as the title suggests. The instrumental ‘Love Baby Love Mix ’beefs up the Roland drums and dubs out the keys and timbales, amplifying the cool strut of the original groove. ‘Rock Me (In The Cradle Of Jazz)’ also from 1988, shares the same palette but comes with a lighter touch. Joanna’s ode to the jazz greats is probably the most Pop Soul track on this collection and sits nicely next to Sade’s best
By 1989, City Heat’s production and songwriting had leapt forward, and we can hear this emphatically on the deliciously smooth RnB slow dancer ‘Strange How It Goes ’and the piano led ‘What Must I Do’ and its loving nod to Roy Ayres productions. Finally, we have the catwalk groove of ‘London Child ’with its fluid Spanish style guitar work from Ross, Joanna in full sensual mode and an infectious nod to the voguing craze.
The Soul II Soul DJs Jazzie B, Daddae Harvey, Q and Aitch were key supporters of City Heat and led to Simon becoming part of the Soul II Soul songwriting and production team (Keep on Moving and Back To Life were both born at Ross ’studio). Artists such as Chaka Khan, James Taylor of Kool and The Gang, Junior Giscombe, Light Of The World and many others came to work with him there. Simon went on to remix Eric B & Rakim and write with his mentor and hero, EWF’s Maurice White amongst many projects but he also continued to produce music with Joanna and Ross. Joanna’s own musical career included releases on US label Easy Street including the classic First Time Ever I Saw Your Face (oft sampled) and two great albums with the Pressure Drop team and has been releasing soul-drenched tunes up to this day.