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.
Heavy Shift - forward into 2000
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.
Jazz Gigs & Festivals
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.
Exuding the sort of effortless improvised funky
class which increasingly seems to be going out
of fashion in this era of the rigidly programmed
set list and tightly scripted radio playlist, Heavy
Shift really are shockingly good live and while
this incarnation is sounding perhaps more
futuristic than any of its predecessors it also
harks back to previous eras when live
musicianship could cast a real spell, a funky
voodoo unrivalled by any machine led groove.
Combining the experience of over eighteen years
of playing, writing, recording and touring together
with a huge amount of other top end musical work
(far too much to list here) Heavy Shift have become
a cult to those in the know and the best kept
musical secret to those unlucky enough not to
have sampled their talents.