Unfortunately, Hott Wax experienced yet
another setback as we found out that there was another band called Hott Wax so we had to
change our name for legal reasons therefore renamed ourselves ‘Hi
Tension.’ The inspiration of EW&F dealing with the natural elements of our
planet, hence their name, together with the study of Egyptology and the energy of
universe, it’s not surprising that my brother, David Joseph came up with the
name ‘Hi Tension.’ He used
to work for London Underground as a qualified Telecommunicationist and our name came from
signs from London Underground saying “High Tension” denoting electrical cabling and
danger. He took that idea and renamed it Hi Tension to denote a source of
power, energy and life. Now you
We composed music and wrote songs and
pushed boundaries. The
most important factor for us was creating rhythmic sounds then formulating a melody around
them. We had a new or fresh approach to our sound that I humbly say the UK
hadn’t heard before, under the directorship of David Joseph.
True to Melody Maker’s prediction mentioned
earlier, things were about to happen to us faster than we could imagine. Following a group jam,
we created and wrote a song called ‘Hi Tension’ and it was based on that song that Chris
Blackwell CEO of Island Records gave us a recording contract and signed us up. He gave us an
Album deal and produced our first single with Kofi Ayivor from Osabisa.
Hi Tension was our first single and was a hit
both here in England and in Europe.
‘British Hustle’ gave us equal success both here in England and in
Europe. What my band didn’t know until today and as you read on, the bass line that
I played on ‘British Hustle’ was inspired by Ashford & Simpson’s bass line from their
song ‘Solid’ from their Solid album. In
addition, the bass line that I played on ‘Peace On Earth’ was inspired by EW&F’s song
for yourself! Our first album ‘Hi Tension’ was produced Alex Sadkin from Miami and Kofi
Ayivor which had moderate acclaim. We actually recorded 2 albums with Island but only one was
like I didn’t initially connect with EW&F’s earlier albums, maybe Island records didn’t relate to our music sufficiently well enough because bigger
and better things were in the pipeline. Who knows! As I said, we pushed boundaries!
the huge success of our first single,
bought myself my second bass guitar
which was a Fender Precision, inspired by Verdine White from EW&F.
All the energy that I delivered on stage since my
first performance at my school Aylestone with Hott Wax and subsequent
performances with Hi Tension was definitely inspired by seeing Verdine White
of EW&F perform live.
I believe that I had a duty to give our fans or audience something
more than they get from just listening to the record. This is a principle that Hi Tension lived by and
practised i.e. not just to replay our recorded songs live but to rearrange our music, add a
little spice, give it flavour and make it more interesting and be entertaining.
Following the success of our first single, we then recruited the
services of Papa Mensa (our second drummer). Although having 2 drummers in a band was not unusual
in America with the likes of James Brown, EW&F and currently Beyonce, it was certainly
unique for any UK funk band to have this set up. As I said, we pushed boundaries, wanted to be
different and wanted to entertain our audience both auditory as well as visually. That was a dynamic feeling and experience for
me. Personally, I believe Hi Tension’s
music sounded better live than any of our recorded material and that’s because we had
complete control how it was played and rearranged. Recording in a studio is a different discipline where
control can be taken away from you or reduced for commercial reasons. Personally, I prefer live performances because I get
that immediate feedback from an audience that you can’t get from studio recordings, record
sales, radio or television alone. I do
appreciate and recognise that each category of creating music and marketing is important but
my preference was performing live.
See me extending my gratitude to our fans at Hammersmith Odeon
in 1980 and backstage with my brother in Hi Tension’s dressing room before going on
stage. Also see David Joseph, Paul Phillips
and me giving a speech of gratitude at Hammersmith Odeon after receiving the ‘Best New Disco
act Award’ which you can see on this website.
The proudest moment for me during my music career was doing a UK
Tour and returning home to London to perform at Hammersmith Odeon before our parents, and
friends and a ‘sell out’ audience.
For those of you
who never got the opportunity to see us live, what can I say!
I guess it goes without saying that EW&F were my inspiration and
I was fortunate enough to meet Maurice White, Verdine White, Ralph Johnson, Larry Dunn and
Don Myrick whilst they were touring here in England at Wembley