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 Hammond 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.