Forgotten series: The Heats – Smoke (1998)

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Ah, here’s another great band that got away!

Formed in 1978 in Seattle, Washington, the Heats certainly had everything working in their favor. Buck Ormsby, bassist of the legendary 1960s band the Wailers and owner of the fabled Etiquette label, took the boys under his wing, while Howard Leese (then guitarist for Heart) produced their debut album, 1980’s Have An Idea. But most importantly, the Heats had the ability to write dynamic songs. As well, the band was able to duplicate these catchy numbers in a live setting, garnering them a large and devoted local fan club.

Rightfully believing the Heats were ripe for rediscovery, Chuckie-Boy Records roped together a selection of the band’s tunes on Smoke, which is so good that each song reeks of radio-ready credibility. Chugging guitars and brawny drumming are joined at the hip with a melodic awareness, while the vocals are punky and sassy. Standard rock and roll filtered through a power pop spirit shape the band’s excitable anthems. Motivated by the rousing rumblings of the Rolling Stones, the Kinks and the Dave Clark Five, the Heats borrowed from the cream of the crop but brought new and vital notions to the table.

Spurred by jittery rhythms, chirpy harmonies and snappy breaks, “I Don’t Like Your Face” is one of the best put down tunes ever slapped onto vinyl. A continually high energy level feeds the songs on “Smoke,” with cuts like “Divorcee,” “Night Shift” and “Sorry, Girls” demonstrating the band’s unstoppable stamina to fine effects. Charged with a fun and frisky air, “Let’s All Smoke” celebrates the joys of puffing on cigarettes, while “Some Other Guy” gallops along to a crispy country twang.

Although commercial success was not in the cards for the Heats, they are lovingly remembered by those who were there. And thanks to Smoke, a whole new generation of music buffs have been turned onto the band’s infectious tunes. Padded thick with rock that pops and pop that rocks, these songs are as relevant now as they were when they were originally recorded.

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