British jazz-funk combo Shakatak formed in London in 1980. Originally comprising keyboardists Bill Sharpe and Nigel Wright, guitarist Keith Winter, bassist Steve Underwood, and drummer Roger Odell, the group quickly scored an underground hit with its debut single "Steppin'," cracking the British Top 50 the following year with the singles "Livin' in the UK" and "Brazilian Dawn." Their debut LP, Drivin' Hard, was also well-received, and with the 1982 follow-up Nightbirds, Shakatak (which replaced Underwood with bassist George Anderson) scored their first Top 20 hit in "Easier Said Than Done"; the disc's title track also rocketed into the Top Ten. Nightbirds also introduced singer Jill Saward, who emerged as Shakatak's lead vocalist with the band's fifth album, 1984's Down on the Street, which notched the hit "Watching You"; 1985's Live preceded the release of the group's next studio effort, Day by Day.
The debut show for Mel, Boz, RF and Ian and what a fantastic atmosphere this soundboard recording has! The band are incredibly animated, clearly delighted to be away from their basement rehearsal room and obviously enjoying the liberation of being onstage. The shouts of encouragement and approval being exchanged – often in mid-song – give this recording an astonishing intimacy. Highlights include Fripp’s razor-sharp lines in the chorus section of Cirkus. There's an enchanting version of Lady of The Dancing Water with winsome backing vocals from Ian, trimmed with some rich baritone sax. And listen out for the running lines and slashing chords from LTIA pt1 as they make their debut during a radically different and experimental Sailor’s Tale.