I'm not clear as to Metal Mind's rationale in choosing to re-release Heads Up!'s material at this moment in time - particularly in a limited edition of 2000 copies - but, irrespective of their reasoning, I'm pretty glad they did and that one has winged its way to my player for review. The CD, which is in fact a straight conglomeration of the band's original 1990 Soul Brother Crisis Intervention album and their 1991 Duke EP, is rather good and very enjoyable to listen to. If you like raw guitar-driven rock and you like funk then you'll like this! I've no idea why the band split up after the EP but it surely wasn't because of a lack of musical ability.
The first ten tracks of the CD are the original album, the last 5 the EP. You will notice a step change in soundscape between the two. The CD is heavy on funk, so much so that you could picture a young James Brown himself being at ease directing the groove and singing. The Duke EP, on the other hand, owes more to the rock side of the fusion: whilst strong elements of funk do remain, it's not the main ingredient. The guitar solos become longer and more languorous and the groove weakens. The differences between the EP and the album, however, are not significant enough to make the CD as a whole sound awkward, and the whole CD plays well as a whole.
The opening of the album is high on the funky groove: the pacey opener, "Corny Style Pizza", is straight from the James Brown school with some tasty raw guitar playing taking the place of the horns. The James Brown influence wanes slightly after the opening number but he funk remains the thing; the groove is always insistent and catchy; and overlaying it are pleasing rock tones courtesy in particular of the metallic guitar playing. Differences to highlight include some acoustic guitar in the chorus of the environmental protest song "Big Mama", some synthesizer infiltrating "Clouds" and the slower and, with more than a tinge of soul, slightly different mood to the start of "Come on Baby" (which would have made a fine closing number on the original album).
Of the Duke tracks, "I'm Alive" and "Crippled Dog" are the funkiest, the remainder owe more to their rock heritage. "Dave's Song" sports a super guitar solo passage to close out; "Love U", for those who like that kind of thing, has some simulated sex going on in the background; and "Sleep Sister, Sleep" is an instrumental featuring some wistful phrasing on the bass during the long opening section that is then joined by more guitar soloing: it's very good and enjoyable but has left the eighth wonder of the world, poor old James Brown, stewing in he dressing room (he would have liked this record overall though; may he rest in peace wherever he may be).
Very enjoyable: a fun, happy, grooving record that'll make you bop as well as give you some tasty guitar morsels! A very worthy re-release indeed!
Incidentally, I can't find a band website or MySpace page, so the link is to the Metal Mind page promoting the CD.
1) Corny Style Pizza (3:18)
2) Future Tense (3:06)
3) Big Mama (5:26)
4) Happy Cats (4:26)
5) Brothers of the Blue Flame (3:59)
6) Pumps (3:09)
7) #3 (5:04)
8) Clouds (3:36)
9) Gum Flapper (3:11)
10) Come on Baby (4:42)
11) Dave's Song (6:00)
12) I'm Alive (2:06)
13) Love U (4:24)
14) Crippled Dog (4:44)
15) Sleep Sister, Sleep (4:16)