Shakatak

The Best Of Shakatak

Good music is timeless. Which group can put it under proof then Shakatak. The release of a compilation is always an opportunity for a look back into past. It's unbelievable how long this group is already in music business still fascinating the audience with fresh new music. When Shakatak was founded in 1980 noone had an idea of Smooth Jazz. It was the year, when George Benson released his hit-album Give Me The Night. His music was declared as Soul Funk, Shakatak's music as Soul or Jazz Funk (all music guide). But this definition doesn't really hit the point.

The Shaks created an unique new style. They were the forerunners of the genre, we better know as Smooth Jazz today. They combined Pop music with elements of jazz and latin jazz in a way, which wasn't heard to this time. But they also adapted masterly the changing influences of contemporary music. "Their music simply refuses to be categorised " is a cite of their biography, which I can underline.

The Best Of is a compilation of the Polydor releases in the period from 1981 'til 1989. The time of their greatest hits, when they dominated the European charts. Between 1980 and 1987 Shakatak had 14(!) UK chart singles. A rather complete list of their albums is to find at http://www.musiclovers.de/html/shakatak.html. This album is not the first compilation. The first "The Best Of Shakatak" was released 1984 in Japan, followed by "The Coolest Cuts" 1988 in UK/Germany and "The Very Best Of Shakatak" 1988 in Japan, "Greatest Grooves" 1990 in UK, "Remix Best Album" 1991 in Japan, "The Collection" 1996 in UK, "The Orchestral Hits Of Shakatak" (not authorized by the group) 1997 in UK, "The Best Of Jazz Connections"2000 in UK, "The Magic Of Shakatak" 2000 in UK, The Collection Volume II 2000 in UK. Which other group could re-release so often their hits with such a tremendous success?

What is the speciality which decides this compilation from the other above mentioned albums? It's the comprehensive collection of nine years stardom starting with their first album "Drivin' Hard" in 1981 and ending with  "Turn The Music Up" 1989 accompanied by a commentary to each track by Roger Odell himself. Therefore this collection is not a simple string of tunes but a valuable documentation of music-history.

Walking along "memory lane" the album starts with Down On The Street, which is Shakatak's biggest hit. This tune hasn't lost it's flashing force as shown up with the Shakatak vs. Wackside - Down On The Street project in 2001.

Mr. Manic & Sister Cool (1988, Germany) is another dancefloor-hit with Nigel Wright's vocoderized vocal. The vocoder is still an artistic method of vocal-alienation as you might recognized by hearing Cher's latest hits or Roger Odell's solo album Beatifik - The Blue Window.

Toot The Shoot was the first voderized tune inspired by Herbie Hancock's records of the 70's. This tune was chosen from the album Drivin' Hard from 1981.

Night Birds is the second album, released in 1982. The title song was as a single the first top-ten hit of the group in UK and opened the door for the Shaks to worldwide stardom, especially in Europe, Japan and South-America. Roger comments: A great fusion style middle section leads to superb soloing from Keith and Bill.

Time Of My Life is another tune from the album Mr. Manic & Sister Cool. A  funky attitude with a propulsing synth bass and Jill Saward's strong but heavenly vocals.

Day By Day, a single release from the album City Rhythm,  profited from the incredibly fertile cooperation between Al Jarreau and Shakatak. Incomparable Al Jarreau's scat song. (Don't miss the breast comment about the cover picture at Shakatak's website!)

Let's get together now from the Out Of This World-album, which was published 1983 in Germany, presents the typical airy synthsound with much chorus-effect. 

The instrumental Kagape showcases the latin jazz influence, which is glimpsing on every album. The tune features the guitarist Keith Winter, who had to stop playing with the group caused by a serious illness. The tune was released on the first exclusively for Japan produced album Into The Blue.

Turn The Music Up is one of the more rocking Pop-tunes. A propulsing bass with heavy synth and Jill's earblowing voice. I like especially the harmonica in a Stevie Wonder mood. It's the title song of their UK release in 1989.

Watching You was a very popular tune in Europe. It's from the 1984'er album Down On The Street (UK). A single version was issued in the same year. The tune hasn't lost it's attraction, as you can hear on numerous live events.

Easier Said Than Done, a laidback groove with a great chorusline and impressing piano play is one of Shakatak greatest hits and establish them as superior group in Europe. The tune appears on the Night Birds album (1982).

Out Of The Blue is to find at the album Into The Blue (1986/ Japan). A relaxing tune with a great piano performance.

Takin' Off is another musician's choice from the Night Birds album. Funky bass and masterly piano play.

Invitations was Shak's second uptempo latin jazz track after Brazilian Dawn. Title song of their 1982er album, which was released in Germany. Impressing the dynamic flute cherishing Jill's vocals.

Dark Is The Night released from the Out Of This World album, was also produced in an extended single version. The melodius chorus has a hooking touch.

City Rhythm kept up their success especially in Germany. It's the title tune of their 1985er album.

Sanur is the final cut of this glorius compilation. An up-tempo tune with an awesome guitar solo and Bill's fantastic piano running. Roger Odell's all-time favorite was produced 1983 on the Out Of This World album.

This compilation is a great starting point for all music lovers, which want to discover Shakatak's music, for their long-time fans it's a fantastic voyage into musical past.

 

HBH

 

Thanks to Ralph Henke (www.musiclovers.de) for his permission to link to his covers.
 

 

 

 

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The album is available at