Release Date: Mar 25, 2008
Record label: Counter
Genre(s): Indie, Rock
Because the Brits are so effective at tweaking American musical innovations and selling them back, it was only a matter of time before a UK version of the Gnarls Barkley model appeared on the market here. It’s in the form of an album by former Alpha mates Kelvin Swaby and Corin Dingley and their Bath buds, who call themselves the Heavy. Great Vengeance And Furious Fire is an old-school soul studio concoction centred around Swaby’s captivating falsetto rasp and Dingley’s crushing drum thump retrofitted to a Superfly backdrop complete with all the 70s psych-funk signifyers that go with it.
Had John Singleton's remake of Shaft been released just a few years later -- say, sometime around 2007, when the Heavy first emerged with their gritty mixture of funk and soul -- then the director would've done well to make Great Vengeance and Furious Fire the movie's soundtrack. Blending horn samples and noisy percussion into some furiously beat-driven songs, the Heavy often sound like the sort of street-smart band that would've ignited a bidding war between Stax and Sire Records in the mid-'60s. They combine Isaac Hayes with Gnarls Barkley, Curtis Mayfield with Jimi Hendrix, Mike Skinner's elastic delivery with Prince's falsetto vocals.