Roger Odell

Bill Sharpe

Nigel Wright

Steve Underwood

Keith Winter

Jill Saward

George Anderson Junior


During 1980, a white label promo was released on Record Shack’s inhouse label, which was operated via a shop under the same name. Usually, independent labels in the UK such as this one, had their product distributed with the invaluable assistance of Tony Monson, a renowned DJ, A&R man, and living encyclopaedia of music. One group on the roster called themselves Shack Attack on some of their earliest pressings, and the name was subsequently re-spelled once the group had decamped to Polydor Records.

Shakatak began as a quintet consisting of co-founder Roger Odell on drums, Bill Sharpe on piano, Steve Underwood on bass, Nigel Wright on synthesizer, and Keith Winter who was formerly in Trevor Horn’s pop group The Buggles, on lead guitar. They were literally an average white band, as there were no female or black members at that time. This would soon change. Although Feels Like The Right Time was their debut for Polydor, and funk fans enjoyed Brazillian Dawn in the UK's jazz clubs of late 1980, Living In The UK was the single which created the most excitement commercially around the band. It was even used as a theme for Take Two, a children’s television series.

Their acclaimed first LP, Drivin' Hard, contained Late Night Flight and Toot The Shoot. Steppin' and Covina, were also very popular in the nightclubs. All the tracks were composed by Bill Sharpe, while Nigel Wright handled the production chores. The album featured Jill Saward and Jackie Rawe on backing vocals, who both appeared under the unfortunate title of The UK Sluts. Saward was no stranger to the music business, as she had been in the pop group Enigma who promoted their hits, covering songs from the 1960s, on Top Of The Pops. Shakatak attracted the usual criticism that home-grown talent often did back then, because of the highly commercial sound of their music. And one particular radio DJ even refused to play their singles on his shows.

Easier Said Than Done kicked off a great year for the band, as it peaked at number 15 during February 1982. And Nightbirds, the magnificent title track of their second LP, reached number 9 in May. Extensive airplay throughout the summer months, ensured that to some of their fans, it became a part of their soundtrack to the long hot days which English weather used to produce in the past. The album went on to sell half a million copies worldwide. Other notable tracks were Street Walkin' and Rio Nights. A new member entered the group, as bassist Underwood was replaced by George Anderson Junior, who later began an ill-fated relationship with Saward which produced their son James. The pair have since divorced.

The group had really come of age by earning several hit records barely months apart, and Invitations their second LP of 1982, saw them appearing yet again in the UK pop charts in the autumn. The lesser known Stranger was also worth a listen, and by the end of the year, they had embarked upon their first world tour.

If You Could See Me Now from the Out of This World LP, was eclipsed by Dark is the Night a top 20 hit in June 1983.

Down On The Street the title track from their fourth LP, came backed with the melifluous B side Holding On, which featured a sax solo by Dick Morrissey and became yet another top 10 hit in August 1984. Don’t Blame it on Love and Watching You were yet more great singles from an LP recorded in several locations such as France, London, and New York. The track Lady (To Billie Holiday), was a very classy tribute to the late great jazz singer. By this time, Saward was co-writing and had taken over all backing vocals, while keyboardist Nigel Wright decided to take a backseat, and continued on with the group as a producer and songwriter.

The redoubtable Al Jarreau dueted with Saward on the title track of 1985's Day by Day LP. City Rhythm was very a memorable and breezy addition to that album.

In 1985, many were surprised by Bill Sharpe’s collaboration with electronic new wave performer Gary Numan, and their single If You Change Your Mind. It was an electronic tour-de-force, which earned them a well deserved position in the top 20. Sharpe's solo LP also contained the titular track Famous People.

Sadly, Keith Winter had to leave the band, as a debilitating illness he suffered left him unable to play guitar for many years. He has since recovered his health.

In the late 1980s, the group catered more to the Asian market with several specially recorded albums, as sales in Europe slowed. Although Odell and Sharpe wrote many of their songs, all members of the band eventually collaborated on tracks on subsequent LPs. Often criticised but highly successful nonetheless, they have released over 50 albums to date, and continue to tour to this day. They are one of the few artists who can actually claim to be big in Japan. At the end of the 1990s, they even produced a collection of christmas songs.

2009 saw the release of their album Afterglow. It proved that the band have successfully maintained their high standard of previous years.

*Upadated 15 September 2017

Feels Like The Right Time 12 inch

The first of many albums

Shakatak live!

Nightbirds 12 inch single

Walkin' the streets with Shakatak

1983's Out Of This World LP

1984's Down On The Street LP