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James Taylor Quartet

James Taylor Quartet

Emerging from the tragic bankruptcy of Stiff Records, James Taylor, founding member of the infamous group The Prisoners — formed The James Taylor Quartet. JTQ's first single, Blow Up, was released on the Re Elect The President (Acid Jazz) label in 1985. It was a huge success, immediately attracting the attention of John Peel who championed it; the track appearing three years running on Peel's seminal Festive 50 Chart. After an impressive 13 weeks in the Indie Singles Chart, the band decided to start work on a mini album, titled Mission Impossible.

This debut, released in '86, was naturally featured around Taylor's Hammon organ sound to produce classic covers of Sixties film themes Mission Impossible, Goldfinger, Mrs Robinson and other heavily grooving instrumental punk funk tunes. With JTQ's following growing, the band were encouraged to put out their second album on Re Elect The President, The Money Spyder.

By the time it was released in 1987, the band's attentions were being drawn away from their recording career to their now massive live audience. JTQ's emphasis on live "dance" music has been the key to the band's success, enabling them to establish a solid relationship between them and their fans. With the focus now strongly on being a "live" band, The Quartet gigged relentlessly, selling out on the London club circuit. During this period, major record company interest was aroused resulting in a long term deal with Polydor. The James Taylor Quartet released three albums on Polydor, Wait a Minute in 1988, Get Organised in 1989 and Do Your Own Thing in 1990. A number of hit singles were spawned from these such as the acclaimed and well-loved classic The Theme from Starsky & Hutch.

With the release of their first live album, Absolute in 1991, The Quartet moved to Polydor subsidiary Big Life. Featuring guest vocals from Rose Windross of Soul II Soul on Shelter and Noel McKoy on Somebody, the album initiated JTQ's introduction to the Soul Market. In 1992, Noel McKoy officially became the Quartet's lead vocalist. Singles See a Brighter Day and the top 40 Love the Life were both taken from the Top 30 album Supernatural Feeling, released in 1993. In this year alone, the band performed over one hundred and fifty shows in 15 different countries, including destinations as far flung as Thailand, Japan and the USA. The climax of this was headlining in front of 5,000 people at London's Brixton Academy. With JTQ's success, James' musical talent became admired by numerous other acts — The Wonderstuff, Manic Street Preachers, The Pogues and U2 have all featured James and his distinctive Hammond playing on their albums.

In 1994, with chart success behind them and their established international live network, The James Taylor Quartet made the decision to go full circle and rejoin Edward Piller at the independent Acid Jazz. The first album from his new home, In The Hand Of The Inevitable was received with critical acclaim and is Acid Jazz's current top seller having sold over 200,000 copies — further proof that James Taylor is one of the great Hammond players of this generation.

Also released was the retrospective BBC Radio Sessions LP and for the first time James' material was released in the USA via Hollywood records with tracks from Mission Impossible being the highest climber in the college radio charts. James' 10th album — Living Underground saw a return to the style he loved most — instrumental Hammond led rocking jazz funk workouts. It featured the stripped down to the bone sound that pays respect to the earliest JTQ hits like Mission Impossible and The Money Spyder. The press respected him for the move away from commercial pop/soul and the now wholly instrumental live set ripped up the crowds more than ever. 1996 saw James play two full sell out weeks at London's Jazz Cafe and a sell out show at The Brixton Academy, as well as tours in uncharted territories from Brazil to Yugoslavia.

In 1997 James had the chance to fulfil a dream — film theme's always featured heavily throughout his albums and he was asked to score a theme for Austin Powers, a spy spoof starring Mike Myers (Wayne's World). James also set up his own label JTI Records, releasing a compilation album of various artists who he has worked with and respected over the years including Simon Bartholomew (Brand New Heavies), The Prisoners, New Jersey Kings and The Apostles. 1998 saw James touring the UK and Europe to support the release of MOBO-nominated Whole Lotta Live, a new live album by the band released in May. It also saw James sign to a new label GUT Records, to begin the next phase of the adventure. The autumn of 1999 saw James featuring on the Tom Jones duets album Reload with Looking Out of My Window which they performed together on the National Lottery Show. A change of label also spawned a change of style with the latest album on Gut records released in December. A Bigger Picture saw the band mixing their unique brand of funk with a more polished and "clubby" production, with the vocals being provided by a brand new singer, Yvonne Yaney. The band however, decided to leave the label after just one release due to creative differences, and have recently signed a new deal with American label Ubiquity.

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