T is for Tanita Tikaram

Friday 24th January

It was the late eighties and music was dull, no really new light on the horizon.  Pop had fizzled out and Dance Music was still an underground minority craze.   Madonna ruled, synthesizers were everywhere.  Real acoustic music seemed lost with no direction at all.  Into this toxic mix was suddenly dropped the pure deep voice of Tanita Tikaram.  She was born of Malaysian and Fijian parents and raised in Germany but had spent her teens in Basingstoke.  A strange exotic mixture she was also English as tuppence.  And her first album Ancient Heart was full of songs that sounded timeless ‘Twist in my Sobriety’ and ‘Cathedral Song’ could have been written twenty years ago.  The production was fairly sparse and included mandolin and concertina, allowing her cool mature voice to rise to the fore.  I fell for her straightaway, and for a few years she didn’t disappoint at all.

But as inevitably seems to happen, especially with girl singers, after a few years the fashions changed and Tanita was struggling for a record contract.  She releases albums very sporadically these days and that youthful enthusiasm seems to have paled too.  Her songs now lack that naivety, that light-heartedness, that ‘joie de vivre’ that those first few records had.

There was a time when I sought out all sorts of 10 and 12 inch singles and picture CD singles of Tanita, I just loved her; both her voice and those exotic looks.  I will still buy her records but don’t expect anything remarkable these days.

Her brother incidentally came to fame at about the same time appearing and bewitching us in ‘This Life.’