Shakatak was an underground instrumental dominated jazz-funk band at a time when the genre hadn't really hit the mainstream, mainly showcasing the keyboard skills of Bill Sharpe and the jazz guitar of Keith Winter. Taking a chance on a female vocalist, Jill Saward, they released their second album, Nightbirds, which featured a radio-friendly vocal over the top of their jazz meanderings, and suddenly the pop market opened up for them with the hit single "Easier Said Than Done" with its mainly piano based tinkling and a dance beat, and Saward's vocal on the chorus. They followed this with an even bigger hit, "Night Birds" which became the title track of the second album, still with the trademark piano and jazz bassline. Taking a break from the danceable pop/jazz was the track "Rio Nights," which slowed the pace down, perfectly reminiscent of a balmy night out in the Caribbean or Latin America. One could almost feel the warm breeze as the George Benson style guitar played. The first track, "Taking Off," was an instrumental with some scat singing at the end, and "Light of My Life" would predate the soulful singing of Anita Baker and Mica Paris by half a decade, but Nightbirds would prove to be the high point for Shakatak who never troubled the Top Ten again.
Night Birds Review
by Sharon Mawer