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Heavy Shift

Heavy Shift

Having met on the London jamming scene of the late 80s, a hot bed of talent which was to produce much of the best funky action of the next few years, John Wallace and William South soon became firm friends and started to work on demos which would eventually lead, via a couple of low key singles, to their first album, Unchain Your Mind which was a worldwide hit on its release in 1994.

The lead track 90 in the Shade went top three in the USA, Jazz FM pronounced it their album of the year and a world tour swiftly followed.

The next album, the critically acclaimed The Last Picture Show sold less well — perhaps due to the bands refusal to stand still creatively — but the title track found its way on to the seminal chill out album series Café del Mar and brought the band many new converts as a consequence.

After a couple of years of relative inactivity — both Wallace and South were engaged in extracurricular musical activities — Heavy Shift re-emerged in 2000 with Say Hello to Teddy on Jazz FM's Onion label.

This more straight forward live funk outing sold very well in the UK and its American release (retitled The Conversation on Instinct Records) is still enjoying healthy airplay today, as is 90 in the Shade which is now regarded as a classic of the genre.

Again looking for the creative rather than fiscal way forward, the band slimmed down in 2003 to a power trio (South handling bass duties with his left hand, Doors style) only retaining the services of loyal drummer Julian Fenton, now an integral part of the band sound.

Increasingly distracted by other calls on their  individual time — writing TV/film music/adverts for  South, touring his various retro jazz/r'n'b projects for Wallace and being the regular drummer for 80s legends ABC for Fenton — Heavy Shift have been less active for the past couple of years.

However when they do play — whether at a private party or at a jazz gig/festival they burn like molten lead as their increasingly swing orientated grooves manipulate the audience like a snake charmer and his prey.

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