One of the original benefactors of the early 80s UK jazz/funk boom, alongside contemporaries Level 42, Shakatak originally comprised Bill Sharpe (keyboards), Steve Underwood (bass), Keith Winter (guitar), Roger Odell (drums), and Nigel Wright (keyboards, synthesizers). Between 1980 and 1987, Shakatak had 14 UK chart singles. Beginning with their chart debut, 1980's 'Feels Like The First Time' on Polydor Records, the string of hits included 'Easier Said Than Done' (1981), 'Night Birds' (1982), 'Dark Is The Night' (1983) and 'Down On The Street' (1984). By this point, a number of personnel changes had taken place, with Underwood replaced by George Anderson in 1982 and the introduction of female lead vocalist, Jill Saward, on 1984's Down On The Street. This understated group proved their reputation as one of the finest purveyors of classy jazz/funk with the successful compilation, Coolest Cuts. The latter half of the 80s showed Shakatak leaving behind the demands of instant pop chart hits and allowing themselves to mature, honing their jazz influences and building on their enormous popularity in Japan. The band released several exclusive instrumental albums for the Japanese market during this period (later compiled Perfect Smile and Open Your Eyes), but parted company with founder member Winter owing to ill health. During the 90s, Shakatak consolidated their reputation in both Europe and the USA, where they regularly place albums high on the Billboard Contemporary Jazz chart.
All the members have released solo material, the most successful of which was Sharpe's collaboration with Gary Numan on the one-off single 'Change Your Mind', in 1985. On reaching the UK Top 20, it was not until four years later that the duo released a full album, Automatic. In 1999, Sharpe collaborated with producer Don Grusin on the Latin-jazz project, State Of The Heart.
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