1. Dark is the Night
2. Don't Say That Again
3. Slip Away
4. On Nights like Tonight
5. Out of This World
6. Let's Get Together
7. If You Could See Me Now
9. Dark is the Night (12-inch Single Extended Version)
10. Dark is the Night (7-inch Single Version)
11. Out of this World (12-inch Single Extended Version)
12. Out of this World (7-inch Single Version)
13. If You Could See Me Now (7-inch Single Version)
Bill Sharpe - Keyboards
Keith Winter - Guitars
George Anderson Jr. - Bass, backing vocals
Roger Odell - Drums, percussion
Jill Saward, Norma Lewis, Tracy Ackerman - Vocals
Martin Dobson - Tenor sax
Stuart Brooks - Trumpet
Simon Morton - Percussion
Nigel Wright - Brass arrangements
The Vocalion label has been doing us Shakatak fans a service by reissuing some of their early albums. I reviewed their second album, Night Birds, here in 2009 and their third, Invitations, in 2010, although Vocalion seems not to have re-released Shakatak's 1981 debut LP, Drivin' Hard (which first switched me on to this ensemble's special qualities).
Now here's the group's fourth album, recorded in 1983, and it maintains the standard of its three predecessors. In fact the style continued very much as before, with catchy tunes against a strong jazz-funk rhythm. As before, the band's strength lies in its musicians: notably keyboardist Bill Sharpe, who produces some wonderful jazz solos. The other instrumentalists also play very well, with Keith Winter contributing useful solos and George Anderson Jr. adding a strong bass line. Roger Odell's drumming continued to be unadventurous, and the lyrics he wrote for most of the songs are unimaginative - although the vocalists manage to make them sound convincing.
This album gave Shakatak some hit singles, with Dark is the Night reaching no. 15 in the pop charts, while If You Could See Me Now just sneaked into the top 50. On this CD, five bonus tracks have been added at the end, consisting of single edits of songs (although I'm not sure why track 11 is described as an "extended version" when it lasts no longer than the original). The hits deserved their success and I'm rather surprised that the title-track wasn't a hit as well, since it is a very catchy theme. My favourite track is perhaps the instrumental Sanur, which opens with heavenly synthesizer sounds and concludes on one of those delayed-action endings which always sends a shiver up my spine (and Roger Odell's drumming actually impresses).
Some jazz fans may sneer at such "popular" music but Shakatak retained the danceable element which for so long was vital in jazz - as well as memorable melodies which much jazz nowadays seems to neglect. And the band is still going strong: see my next review - of Shakatak's new album, Across the World.