In the mid-70s drummer Roger Odell was working with the band Northern Lights and his rhythm section partner was bassist Trevor Horn, who later formed Buggles (“Video Killed The Radio Star”) before becoming the famous Producer for Seal, Simple Minds, Yes, etc.
Seeking more musically challenging material than the Top-Twenty hits and radio jingles they were playing with Northern Lights, Roger asked Trevor to join a band he intended forming to play the emerging jazz-rock fusion music of groups like Herbie Hancock’s Headhunters, Chick Corea’s Return To Forever and Weather Report.
Looking for a keyboard player and a guitarist, Roger found both in his home town of Bishop’s Stortford. Keith Winter was the prodigious guitar-playing son of Derek Winter, a local bandleader with whom Roger had played some years earlier. Bill Sharpe was known to Roger as a flautist/guitarist, but when his considerable keyboard skills were revealed he was the obvious choice to complete the group. Ex-CMU guitarist Ian Hamlett also became an occasional member.
After rehearsing enough material for a two hour performance, Tracks began what was to become a residency every Sunday lunchtime at Triad Arts Centre in Bishop’s Stortford, soon attracting an enthusiastic audience who would travel some distances to hear the band.
When Trevor left the band to become Musical Director of the Tina Charles Band (former lead vocalist with Northern Lights), his replacement was Martin Elliott, later to join Michael Nyman. Keith also joined Tina’s band, whilst still remaining as the guitarist with Tracks.
When Martin finally left the band his replacement was John Dover, who was the bassist in one of Roger’s first professional groups and later worked with Keith in the band Scoundrel.
Although starting with a repertoire based around the afore-mentioned groups, Tracks soon began to develop original material from within the group. Luckily, Bill was working as a Trainee Engineer for the BBC and was allowed to record groups during “training time”, so in November 1979 Tracks entered the studios at Maida Vale, London and recorded what was to become their Limited Edition 12” Mini Album of which only 100 copies were produced.
These vinyl records sold out quickly at their Triad residency and because of their rarity they soon became “Collector’s Items”. In fact, on a recent trip to Bratislava, Slovakia, the bass playing promoter of a Shakatak concert there owned a cassette copy (of a copy, of a copy) of the original vinyl. The word had truly got around!
Resulting from session work in London, Bill, Keith & Roger were Invited to record some original material composed by Bill. This resulted in the first recordings of the band that with the later addition of George Anderson (bass guitar), Jill Saward & Jackie Rawe (vocals) became the original Shakatak line-up.