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The New Jersey production team known as Blaze authored a number of deep house anthems from the 1980s and '90s, including "If You Should Need a Friend" and "Lovelee Dae" under their own name as well as "Hideaway" by De'lacy and "My Desire" by Amira. Signed to a contract with Motown (ostensibly for their R&B/pop crossover potential) in 1989, the trio of Josh Milan, Kevin Hedge and Chris Herbert issued one solid album for the label before embarking on a career short on LPs but long on stellar productions for a variety of artists. The production wing of Blaze, namely Milan and Hedge (the latter a former gospel singer) began as early favorites on the New York/New Jersey garage scene of the mid-'80s. The pair, both DJs and fans of Tony Humphries' sets at the Newark club Zanzibar, began producing in 1984 and made a name for themselves two years later with a pair of garage classics, "If You Should Need a Friend" and "Whatcha Gonna Do" (with vocals by Colonel Abrams). Remixes and additional production for British synth-popsters ABC led to a recording contract with Motown in 1989. With semi-permanent vocalist Chris Herbert added to the lineup, Blaze released their debut album 25 Years Later in 1990. Though the single "So Special" did well in the clubs, it wasn't quite the crossover Motown expected and the group was dropped. Though the major labels had enough of crossover house music by the early '90s, there was still a major independent market for the music. Milan and Hedge continued to produce and record, both separately and together, during the decade. In 1994, they wrote and produced the British Top Ten hit "Hideaway" by De'Lacy. Three years later, Blaze added Tee Alford and returned with another club hit ("Lovelee Dae") and their second full-length, Basic Blaze (recorded for the UK-based Slip'N'Slide label). A Blaze retrospective appeared in 1999. 2001 saw the release of Natural Blaze, a tribute to their late friend James Toney, Jr., followed by Spiritually Speaking two years later.
© John Bush /TiVo


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