Shakatak is a British jazz-funk band, founded in 1980.
Shakatak scored a number of chart entries, including two Top Ten hits in the UK Singles Chart, "Night Birds" (1982) and "Down on the Street" (1984). The group is still popular in Japan and the Far East, and generally produces a new album each year.
From their first release in August 1980, (the Bill Sharpe composition "Steppin'" on the Polydor record label), and their first album, Drivin' Hard, the band's singles and albums have entered the charts fairly regularly.
It was the release of "Easier Said Than Done" that was to give the band the radio exposure needed for their first top-twenty hit. This record introduced their instrumental-unison vocal sound to a much wider audience, and the track stayed in the UK chart for seventeen weeks. The follow-up, "Night Birds", was their first single to reach the top ten, and the album of the same name gave Shakatak their first gold album, entering at number four and remaining in the charts for twenty-eight weeks. By now a major international act, the success of the release gave them the number-one jazz album slot in Japan, and attracted interest across Europe and South America.
Whilst all this recording activity was going on, the band were also touring extensively through 1982, performing a total of 132 concerts in one year. The band played live shows throughout the UK, Europe, and Japan.
Two more albums ??? Invitations and Out of This World ??? were recorded in 1982 and 1983, resulting in several more chart hits, and paving the way for the next major breakthrough in the band's career. With a subtle change in musical direction, yet still retaining the band's identity, Jill Saward (formerly of Fusion Orchestra, Brandy and Citizen Gang) became their lead singer to make Shakatak's fifth album, Down on the Street. The resulting single releases "Down on the Street" and "Watching You" had some success, and brought them attention in new parts of the world. The following year saw the release of the group's first live album, which was recorded in both Tokyo and London.
The seventh album, Day by Day, saw the development of songwriting by all of the band members. In 1986 Saward announced that she was expecting a baby later the same year. This news gave the band an excuse to stop their hectic touring schedule for a while, and concentrate purely on recording. The band were in the top five foreign acts in Japan, and after winning the coveted Silver Award in the Tokyo International Song Festival, Shakatak were asked to produce an extra album each year exclusively for the Japanese market. By this time they had two extra albums released there entitled Into the Blue and Golden Wings. Both sold reasonably well, the latter winning the "Best Instrumental Album 1987" at the Japanese Phonograph Record Association Awards.
However, following this success the band felt it was time that they re-directed their efforts back to singles, and an album for release to the rest of the world. The result was Something Special, closely followed by the night club and chart hit "Mr Manic & Sister Cool" from their next LP, Manic and Cool. In the 1990s the band had great success in the U.S. when they had two albums that went to No 1 in the contemporary jazz charts and were also awarded the Japanese grammy for best international instrumental album six years running. Since 2000 the band has continued to record and tour the world.
Jill Saward ??? vocals
Bill Sharpe ??? keyboards
Roger Odell ??? drums
George Anderson ??? bass
Alan Wormald ??? Guitar
Former and occasional members
Keith Winter ??? electric guitar on all albums until early 1990s. A founder member of the band, Winter had to give up playing guitar due to serious nerve damage, although he stayed in close contact with the band and as of 2007 has just started to play again after eighteen years.
Steve Underwood ??? bass guitar on the album Drivin' Hard
Jackie Rawe ??? vocals on the first four albums
Dick Morrissey ??? saxophones on Nightbirds and Invitations
Nigel Wright ??? keyboards