Sunday, 16 February 2014

Zakatek - I Gotcha Now (1973)

On a trip to London earlier this year I dropped by one of the capital's oldest second hand record shops, On The Beat, just off the Tottenham Court Road. It's a good job I did because once in there, the owner, Tim told me that it was closing for good the following day. With that sad news in my head I figured I'd better spend as much time as I could in there. I've got a few OCD's and having to look through every single record in a shop is one of them. I have woken up many times in the middle of the night, sweating after having a nightmare about running out of time while looking through records. So with about three hours to go I began working my way through the racks of On The Beat looking for some lost pop gems.

In a section labelled "10cc Related" I picked out a single on Bell records by Zakatek which I'd never come across before. The fact that it was recorded at Strawberry Studios and engineered by Eric Stewart would have been enough to secure a sale but with the added appeal that it was written, arranged and produced by Lynsey De Paul made me cling on the record until I parted with my cash. Just in case!

Zakatek is Indian singer Lenny "The Voice" Zakatek (born Lenny du Platel) who had been touring around the UK and Europe since the mid-sixties in bands the Trailblazers and Funky Fever. It was during the early 1970's that he caught the attention of De Paul who took an interest in his voice, look and stage presence and in 1973 took him under her wing, penning each of the sides of both of his singles for Bell.

The first single, "I Gotcha Now" starts off with the distinctive piano work of Lynsey De Paul but turns into something more dark and psychedelic than anything she would record for herself. Driven by some of the meanest fuzz bass you could ever wish for and some sawing cello riffs, giving it a Walrus-like feel that Jeff Lynne was aiming for with Overture 10538. This tune wouldn't sound out of place on one of those excellent Mixed Up Minds compilations.

I'm quite surprised that a song this good has gone under the radar for so long, although it's probably due to it's rarity with copies not turning up too often. If you're hoping to get a copy off eBay, the most recent one sold in 2012 for £102!

The follow up single, "Get Your Gun" b/w "Gotta Runaway" for Bell records was again the work of Lynsey De Paul who contributed to both sides of the disc. It can be heard here on Robin Wills' fab Purepop blog.

The mid 1970's saw Zakatek join Gonzalez who hit big in 1979 with the disco classic, "I Haven't Stopped Dancing Yet". He then went on to provide vocals for the Alan Parsons Project over a ten year period. Parsons produced the first Zakatek solo LP in 1979 for A&M records and judging by the clips on YouTube it's a bit of an AOR/Soul lost classic and one which I'll being keeping my eye out for when I'm record shopping.  Lenny Zakatek continues to perform to this day and although he may not have any hair left, he's still got "The Voice!".

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