If you have come
to this page through a frame,
In 1979, Taka was signed as a solo artist to Ariola-America. On
the self-titled debut, she was backed by some of the hottest musicians in the industry at
the time; including members of Rare Earth and Tower of Power, plus of course
"Boom" on horns, Chaka on backing vocals and brother Mark on bass. The LP
spawned the R&B top 20 (Pop #74) hit single "Night Dancin'"
and the less commercially successful -but equally smoking- Disco monster "Red
Hot". The album hid a few surprises too, like the ultra funky "Dance
Like You Do At Home" and "Cloud Dancer", a rather
odd mid-tempo ballad which Taka wrote and produced herself.
In 1980, Taka re-united with Norman Whitfield. Whitfield asked her to participate in his Dream Machine project, which was a self-contained group "Brother Whit" assembled and got signed with RCA. Besides Taka, Dream Machine contained former Undisputed Truth members Joe Harris, Melvin Stewart, and Lloyd Williams, as well as Trey Stone, a sought-after session guitarist Whitfield had utilized on various recording projects before. The remaining members were James McKinney, Ron Artis and Pete Carr, all three excellent musicians, hand-picked by Whitfield. Dream Machine's first single, "Shakedown", was an instant club hit, but failed to reach the national charts. The subsequent album -which also contained the heavy-duty funky "Dream Machine", "Living Too High" and "The Force"- was for some reason neglected and eventually Dream Machine were dropped from RCA. Whitfield continued to request Taka's services and among other things, she sang backgrounds on the female duo Stargard's splendid "Back 2 Back" LP in 1982 and even though she wasn't credited for it, did the vocal arrangements for Rose Royce's "Still In Love", taken from their 1982-LP "Stronger Than Ever".
That same year, Taka
decided to move to New York and was offered a deal by the legendary Dance label Prelude
Records. Her first effort on Prelude, "Love Party" from 1982,
is a foot-stomping Funk workout, but the fast and rampantly electronic follow-up "To
Hell With Him", which followed in 1983 is a single that Taka feels is best
and six more tracks, were included on Taka's uneven 1984 album "Boomerang",
an LP that interestingly enough was released on both Mercury and Prelude, plus a number of
other labels. Next to well-known musicians, such as guitarist Paul Jackson, Jr. and
percussionist Paulinho DaCosta, several non-American sounding names appear on the jacket,
such as Christian De Walden (executive producer) and Juergen Koppers (remixer).
Not long after, Prelude folded and Taka
found herself without a record deal. While reading the New York publication Village Voice,
she noticed an ad that looked interesting and decided to answer. It had been placed by a
certain Billy Rush. "Billy used to be the guitarist for Bruce Springsteen and he also
produced and played guitar in Southside Johnny and The Jukes", Taka explained. The
two met in Billy's home studio in New Jersey and what was planned as a short meeting,
became a week-long stay, during which Taka and Billy recorded five tracks. Billy took the
tapes to Mirage/Atlantic Records, who wanted more. The Pop-Dance single "In
The Middle Of the Night" was yet another huge club favorite on both sides of
the Atlantic that left little trace on the charts (it struggled to #63 on Billboard's
R&B chart in November, 1985). The LP, also entitled "Middle Of The Night",
featured a host of guest appearances by top-notch musicians; Bashiri Johnson, Lenny
Pickett and Philip Field, just to name a few. Session pro's Cindy Mizelle and Fonda Rae
supplied the backgrounds, as did sister Chaka and brother Mark
But before she relocated,
Taka wrote, produced and recorded "Feel Good all Over", a song
she says she never received a penny from. Apparently "a criminal who I am
contemplating pressing charges against" stole the masters and sold it to the American
Cult label, where the record eventually came out in the mid-nineties. By the summer of
1995, Taka had fully settled in her U.K. home and recorded the danceable "Lost
In The Rhythm Of Love" (as Taka Boom and The Grove), which was issued on the
British Indochina imprint. That turned out to be a short-lived situation, but not long
after, Taka began a radically different and exciting career, as the lead vocalist in The
Blues of Cain, a bass, guitar and drums Blues ensemble. You've done a little bit
of everything; Soul, R&B, Rock and Disco, when did you begin singing the Blues, I
The Blues of Cain have their base camp in London, but are
popular on the other side of the British channel as well and travels to France quite
often. But don't let this fool you into thinking that Taka's abandoned Dance music or
recording, for that matter. On the contrary, she's busier than ever. In the spring of '97,
Taka bounced back on the Dance charts via "Surrender", recorded
as Rainbow Connection. The brain behind this project happens to be this
scribe's favorite Dance/House music producer and remixer, namely Joey Negro
(real name Dave Lee), who is one of Britain's top names in Dance music. Apart from
his own recordings under various disguises, Lee has produced and remixed a huge number of
records for artists including The Brand New Heavies, Pauline Henry, Take That, M-People,
Alison Limerick, Freakpower, Lisa Stansfield and more recently Monaco, Reel 2 Real and The
Knowledge. Taka isn't the first "veteran", Lee's collaborated with. In 1996, he
cut two exquisite singles on Thelma Houston ("I Need Somebody" & "U.R.
All Of That") and has worked with several other "old-school artists", such
as Gwen Guthrie, in the past. The extremely catchy "Surrender"
12" was released on Lee's own Z label May. In case you haven't heard his previous
recordings, Dave Lee's work is characterized by a strong 70's Disco-influence, stemming
from a genuine love for (and near-insane knowledge of) that era, so this Boom/Negro
collaboration is truly a match made in heaven.
The follow-up to "Surrender" was the bottom-heavy
"U Turn Me On"/"Can't Get High Without U",
which lyrically is (loosely) based on the 1982 Tomorrow's Edition track of the same name.
That 12" was also issued on Dave Lee's Z imprint, in July, under his Joey
Negro alter ego. Not having heard any of Taka's post-'85 recordings, I was
pleased to note that on both of the new singles, Taka's voice is in fine shape. In fact,
she sounds better than ever and the tracks really suit her easily-identifiable voice.
In between gigging with
The Blues of Cain and recording with Dave Lee, Taka's been in the studio with
British-Indian ragga-artist Apache Indian (she sings on "Jump
Up", a single from Apache's "Real People" album on WEA Records).
And there are many more exciting things to look out for in the near future.
© Maria Granditsky