Heatwave – 1976 – Too Hot To Handle

“Too Hot to Handle” was the debut album from the soul/funk ensemble Heatwave, and it was well received by R&B and pop fans. Their initial release was the disco anthem “Boogie Nights“. From the suspenseful, interlude-like intro to the adamant vocal delivery, the single had a lasting effect on the charts. It peaked at numbers five and two on the Billboard R&B and pop charts, respectively. The ballad “Always and Forever” was and continues to be an ageless piece. Johnnie Wilder’s vocal exhibition throughout the vamp is breathtaking. It peaked at number two on the Billboard R&B charts.

These two releases were respectively certified platinum and gold singles. Heatwave did not waste any recording time. This album employs nothing but quality tracks. The moderately paced “Ain’t No Half Steppin‘” was received warmly by radio, and it remains a staple. While Rod Temperton was writing excellent songs, Johnnie Wilder’s supreme vocals gave the songs their identity.

A1 Too Hot To Handle 3:44
A2 Boogie Nights 5:00
A3 Ain’t No Half Steppin’ 5:09
A4 Always And Forever 6:13
B1 Super Soul Sister 3:56
B2 All You Do Is Dial 4:10
B3 Lay It On Me 3:14
B4 Sho’nuff Must Be Luv 4:00
B5 Beat Your Booty 3:00

Heatwave typify what was good about 70’s (and to a lesser extent 80’s) soul, disco and funk music. From the opening classic ‘Too Hot To Handle’ to the less essential but fun ‘Beat Your Booty‘ this album delivers a quality listening performance of real ORGANIC soul (no computers here!). The first single from this album was released as far back as 1975. ‘Super Soul Sister‘ was a good track but just lacked that killer spark to make it stand out amongst the crowd.

The same fate befell the follow up ‘Ain’t No Half Steppin’ but next single ‘Boogie Nights‘ became an instant classic. With a gradually building/teasing intro, the track suddenly bursts into life and from then on your ass is heading for the dancefloor! The equally funky title track was next in the charts before the albums classic (and numerously covered) ballad ‘Always And Forever’ followed proving the group were capable of slowing things down too.

All You Do Is Dial‘ is another ballad, while ‘Lay It On Me‘ and ‘Sho’ Nuff Must Be Love‘ are good album tracks. This is a great album and one that still serves to highlight what a golden era for soul music the 70’s was.

 Quincy Jones heard it when he was in London working on The Wiz. Impressed with Temperton’s writing skills, he recommended him to Michael Jackson. The rest, as they say…