Big Break Records, an imprint of the Cherry Red Group, is back in a big way with its first three reissues of 2015! Expanded editions of Heatwave’s first two albums Too Hot to Handle and Central Heating as well as Silver Convention’s Summernights all have arrived in stores in the U.K. this week, and are due in the U.S. next week!
Heatwave burst onto the scene in a big way with 1976’s Too Hot to Handle, an album that lived up to its title with three hit singles. The group’s membership crossed racial and international lines, with English keyboardist/songwriter Rod Temperton (later to make musical history as writer of such Michael Jackson hits as “Thriller” and “Off the Wall”) joined by American brothers Johnnie Wilder Jr. (vocals/percussion) and Keith Wilder (vocals) of Dayton, Ohio; Jamaica-born Eric Johns on guitar; Swiss-born Mario Mantese on bass; and Czechoslovakia’s Ernest “Bilbo” Berger on drums.
Signed to British label GTO Records (Billy Ocean, The Walker Brothers) and paired with producer Barry Blue and arranger/orchestrator John Cameron (Hot Chocolate, Les Miserables), Heatwave blended funk and disco with pop and jazz flourishes. Too Hot to Handle, entirely composed by Temperton, arrived in the U.K. in December 1976, having been preceded by the single releases of “Ain’t No Half Steppin'” and “Super Soul Sister.” While those A-sides failed to chart, the band had better luck when GTO issued “Boogie Nights” in conjunction with the December album release. The single debuted on the U.K. chart in January 1977 and climbed up to No. 2. When it was released in the United States in May – the same month Too Hot got a belated U.S. issue from Epic Records – it reached the same No. 2 plateau as well as No. 5 on the R&B chart. Back in the United Kingdom, the album’s title track was released on 45 RPM in April 1977, making it to No. 15. Finally, the lush, romantic ballad “Always and Forever” – quite a departure from the sound expected for a funk band – was released in the U.S., earning a Top 20 Pop/No. 2 R&B berth. When it was issued in the U.K. the next year, “Always and Forever” also went Top 10. The album itself went Top 50 in the U.K., but exceeded all expectations in the U.S. with a No. 11 Pop/No. 5 R&B peak.
With all this success, a follow-up was inevitable. Central Heating was released in early 1978 in both the United Kingdom and United States. It was the last Heatwave album to feature both Mario Mantese and Eric Johns, and the first to feature new member Roy Carter on rhythm guitar, bass, and keyboards. Rod Temperton penned most of the album, ceding two tracks to Johnnie Wilder. Barry Blue, John Cameron and engineer James Guthrie all returned to the fold. Temperton’s diverse musical tastes allowed the band to expand its palette with even more musical colors, adding ragtime and honky-tonk touches as well as more progressive rock sounds. But it was the irresistible funk and R&B of Temperton’s “The Groove Line” that rewarded Heatwave with another smash: No. 12 United Kingdom/No. 7 Pop and No. 3 R&B in the United States. Wilder’s “Mind Blowing Decisions” was chosen as the next single, and it matched the No. 12 placement in the U.K. of “The Groove Line” as well as cracking the U.S. R&B Top 50 at No. 49. Central Heating managed to make the Top 30 in the U.K., but fared better across the Atlantic when it reached No. 10 Pop/No. 2 R&B. Like Too Hot, Central Heating earned a U.S. Platinum certification. These two reissues complete Big Break’s reassessment of the Heatwave catalogue through 1982; the label previously gave its deluxe treatment to Hot Property (1979), Candles (1980) and Current (1982).
BBR’s expanded reissue of Silver Convention‘s 1977 album Summernights continues the label’s series dedicated to Munich’s Euro-disco sensations. Like its predecessor Madhouse (reissued last year by BBR), Summernights featured the line-up of Penny McLean, Ramona Wulf and Rhonda Heath. Although once again masterminded by the production and songwriting team of Sylvester Levay and Michael Kunze, Summernights lacked the conceptual ambitions of Madhouse, returning the group to basics.
Its lead single “Telegram,” with a bright and bubbly sound not inaccurately compared to ABBA, was selected as Germany’s entry to the 1977 Eurovision song contest. The song had English lyrics (and more of them than many of Silver Convention’s previous hits!) but despite the reintroduction of a Eurovision language rule stating that each country’s entry must reflects its own national language, “Telegram” was allowed to compete as it had been entered before the rule was reintroduced. Though Germany didn’t win – France did, with Marie Myriam’s “L’oiseau et l’enfant” – “Telegram” bubbled under in the United States with a No. 103 placement on the Billboard chart. Perhaps due to its ABBA-esque style, the track performed best in Sweden, reaching No. 4 on the singles chart. The album hit No. 20 in Sweden, too. Summernights also featured a remake of the group’s first U.S. hit “Save Me” (as “Save Me ’77”) alongside the campy “Voodoo Woman” and a selection of lush, string-drenched disco tracks as well as gentler, more romantic yet still danceable odes in Kunze and Levay’s shimmering style.
Shortly after the release of the LP (retitled Golden Girls for its re-sequenced U.S. version), Penny McLean departed Silver Convention and was replaced by Zenda Jacks; soon, Sylvester also Levay parted ways with the group and his collaborator Kunze. Only one more album would follow for Silver Convention: 1978’s Love in a Sleeper, crafted by Kunze and Philadelphia disco producer John Davis. Penny McLean would return for one last single before the group called it a day in 1979.
BBR’s expanded edition of Heatwave’s Too Hot to Handle boasts eight bonus tracks including the associated non-LP B-sides and single versions; Central Heating has three bonuses including two twelve-inch mixes and one session outtake that appeared on a B-side to a single from a subsequent album. Both Heatwave albums are housed in Super Jewel Boxes. Summernights has two bonus singles – the edit of “Telegram” and the extended twelve-inch Disco Version of “Ain’t It Like a Hollywood Movie.” Thomas Del Pozo has written the new liner notes for Summernights, while Christian John Wikane has annotated both of the Heatwave titles. Nick Robbins has remastered all three titles.
These three releases from Cherry Red’s Big Break Records imprint can be ordered at the links below!
- Too Hot to Handle
- Boogie Nights
- Ain’t No Half Steppin’
- Always and Forever
- Super Soul Sister
- All You Do is Dial
- Lay It on Me
- Sho’Nuff Must Be Love
- Beat Your Booty
- Turn Out the Lamplight (GTO GT-68, 1976)
- Slip Your Disc to This (GTO GT-91, 1977)
- Special Offer (GTO GT-59, 1976)
- Boogie Nights (Single Version) (GTO GT-77, 1976)
- Too Hot to Handle (Single Version) (GTO GT-91, 1977)
- Always and Forever (Single Version) (Epic 50490, 1977)
- AIn’t No Half Steppin’ (Single Version) (GTO GT-59, 1976)
- Boogie Nights (12-Inch Disco Version) (Epic 28-50371, 1977)
- Put the Word Out
- Send Out for Sunshine
- Central Heating
- Happiness Togetherness
- The Groove Line
- Mind Blowing Decisions
- The Star of a Story
- Party Poops
- Leavin’ for a Dream
- Wack That Axe (GTO GT 13 290, 1981)
- The Groove Line (12-Inch Disco Version) (Epic 28-50541, 1978)
- Mind Blowing Decisions (12-Inch Disco Version) (Epic 28-50597, 1978)
- Voodoo Woman
- Ain’t It Like a Hollywood Movie
- Save Me (’77)
- Blame It on the Music
- Disco Ball
- Telegram (Single Version) (Jupiter 17-727-AT, 1977)
- Ain’t It Like a Hollywood Movie (12-Inch Disco Version) (Midsong JD-11027, 1977)