Band members Related acts
- Lenny Zakatek (aka Lenny du Platel) -- vocals, guitar,
- Robert Ahwai -- lead guitar
- Ian Bairnson - lead guitar
- Stuart Elliott -- keyboards
- John Giblin -- drums, percussion
- Max Middleton -- rhythm guitar
- Gonzalez (Lenny Zakatek)
- The Immortals (Robert Ahwai and Lenny Zakatek)
- The Alan Parsons Project (Lenny Zakatek)
Rating: 3 stars ***
Title: Lenny Zakathek
Grade (cover/record): VG / VG
Comments: m\promo stamp on back cover
GEMM catalog ID: SOLD 5552
Price: SOLD $20.00
I was pawing though a bunch of albums at a yard sale and came across this one. Initially I just smirked at the page boy haircut and leather pants (how '70s ...), but I recognized Lenny Zahatek as having provided lead vocals on a number of Alan Parsons Project LPs. I liked his work on those album ('Games People Play' started spinning in my head), so I gave this one a shot.
Born in Karachi, Pakistan (at the time it was still part of India), in 1960 the du Platel family relocated to London. Lenny quickly took a shine to rock and roll and in 1964 formed the cover band The Trailblazers. With du Platel serving as lead singer and rhythm guitarist the band won a contract to play at US military bases throughout Europe. The tour introduced him to Motown and when the tour ended he disbanded the group, quickly forming Funky Fever. Funky Fever became staples on the London club scene and toured England with a number of American soul acts.
du Platel's big break came in the early 1970s when he was spotted by songwriter writer Lynsey DePaul and comedian Dudley Moore. The pair suggest a name change 'Zakatek' and helped him score a solo contract with Bell Records which saw him release a pair of singles with backing from a pubescent 10cc:
- 'I Gotcha Now" b/w 'So Good To You' (Bell catalog number )
- 'Get Your Gun' b/w 'Gotta Runaway' (Bell catalog number )
The mid-1970s found Zakatek a member of the London-based musical cooperative Gonzalez, playing on their second and third albums (1975's "Our Only Weapon Is Our Music" which included the group's biggest hit - the Grace Jones produced disco stomper 'Haven't Stopped Dancing Yet' and 1977's "Shipwrecked").
In 1977 Zakatek was invited to record some vocals for The Alan Parsons Project "I Robot" album. That led to a longstanding partnership with Parsons, including touring with Parsons when he finally hit the road in the early 1990s.
With help from Parsons, Zakatek signed a recording contract with A&M, debuting with 1979's cleverly-titled "Lenny Zakatek". First the obvious - given Zakatek's association with The Alan Parsons Project it was only natural to compare the album against his earlier work with Parsons. Produced by Parsons and with backing from Alan Parsons Project alumni Ian Bairnson and Stuart Elliott, the album frequently had a similar sound and feel, though absent a concept piece per most Parsons releases, the overall feel was far more diverse and commercial. That led to the main draw - Zakatek's chameleon-like voice. The guy had one of those voices that seemed to effortless flit between different genres. I remember playing the album for a friend who was convinced it was an Ambrosia LP that he'd somehow missed. Anyone doubting the comparison need only listen to tracks like 'One Is a Lonely Number' and 'Memories' where Zakatek's performances couple with glistening AOR melodies came of as a dead ringer for David Pack and company. Elsewhere 'Do It Right' and 'Was It Easy' showcased his top-40 pop credentials. The former should have been a massive hit. Equally commercial, but far less impressive to my ears were big ballads like 'Memories' and 'Viens'. In fact a little more emphasis on the up tempo material like 'It's a Dancer' (which Jackie DeShannon subsequently covered) and this would have gotten four stars from me (as if anyone cared). The LP was also tapped for a UK single:
- 1979's 'Do It Right' b/w 'Viens" (A&M catalog number AMS 7492)
Naturally the set disappeared without a trace in the States.
Zakatek" track listing:
1.) Do It Right (Max Middleton - Lenny Zakatek) - 2:55
2.) One Is a Lonely Number (W. Sela - N. Nipear) - 4:30
3.) Was It Easy (John Giblin) - 3:20
4.) Keep a Little Sunshine (D. Lewis) - 3:54
5.) Memories (John Giblin) - 1:45
2.) We Will Never Find (John Giblin) - 5:10
3.) It's a Dancer (John Giblin - Lenny Zakatek) - 4:45
4.) Couldn't We Try (S. Waller) - 4:30
Zakatek's next release came in the form of a one-shot disco effort:
- 1982's 'Say I Love You' b/w 'Say I Love You (remix' (London catalog number LONX-004.
In 1986 he joined Queen bassist John Deacon and guitarist Robert Ahwai in the short lived The Immortals. The group recorded a soundtrack album for the film "Biggies Adventures In Time" and saw a single released off the set, but quickly disappeared when Deacon apparently decided to return to a private lifestyle:
- 1982's 'No Turning Back' b/w 'No Turning Back (Chocks Away Mix)') (MCA catalog number MCA 1057)
For anyone curious, here's a link to a YouTube clip showing the accompanying video:
By the mid-1980s Zakatek's solo career had sputtered out. He continued to record and tour with Parsons, but increasingly turned his attention to the business side of the house, including music publishing (All Zakatek Music) and producing. He somehow ending up in Japan where he began managing artists. Among his clients were Tomoyasu Hotei, Miki Imai, and Kumiko Yamashita. He also found the time to remain active in the UK music scene, where he handled 7th Heaven, Huff and Herb, and The 3 Jays.
There's actually a second Zakatek album - 1989's "Small But Hard". Released by the Japanese Victor label (catalog number VDP-1406), I've never seen, nor heard a copy but would love to score a copy.
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