Over the course of her fifty-three-year career, she’s recorded as a solo artist, a front-woman for multiple groups and a background vocalist for everyone from Elton John to Patti Labelle to Gloria Loring. From her earliest recordings with the band Pollution in 1971, where one critic dubbed her “one of the finest voices this side of Janis [Joplin],” she seemed destined for stardom. Motown thought so as well when they signed Earthquire, another band she was involved with. They kept her under contract—even after dropping the band.
In 1976, they finally released her debut solo album, Full Speed Ahead, which is available again thanks to SoulMusic Records.
Looking back on Full Speed Ahead, it’s hard to believe that the album didn’t draw the commercial success so many predicted. Produced by Winston Monseque and recorded with a rhythm section full of Los Angeles’ best session musicians—James Gadson, Ray Parker Jr., Jay Graydon, Chuck Rainey, Eddie “Bongo” Brown and Al Johnson along with Julia and Maxine Waters, Carmen Twillie and Venette Gloud on background vocals—the album was chock full of well-crafted songs, a smoking rhythm section, lush orchestration and impeccable vocals from Táta.
Not unlike another of Motown’s 1976 releases, Any Way You Like It by Thelma Houston, Full Speed Ahead presented a versatile and soulful artist more than capable of handling a plethora of sounds: disco and funk (the title track, “Love Is All You Need”), heart wrenching ballads (“Just When Things Are Getting Good” and “Just as Long as There Is You”), a touch of the blues (“Been on My Own Too Long”) and inspirational tunes (“Try Love from the Inside,” “Try God”). Steven Ivory’s 1976 Soul article on Táta compared her to Chaka Khan and Stevie Wonder, nothing her “dynamic and aggressive” vocal presence.
Full Speed Ahead marked Táta Vega’s introduction to the world as a solo artist. She went on to record three more critically acclaimed albums for Motown and has since led a career that has taken her into gospel, contemporary Christian, pop, rock, jazz, blues, Americana and Latin music. With recent appearances on recordings by both LeAnn Rimes and Lana Del Ray, Vega shows no signs of slowing down.
Lovingly remastered and sounding fresher than ever, the expanded edition also includes the “Disco Version Extended Single” of the title track as well as two of Táta’s compositions from the 1972 Earthquire album, available on CD for the first time. David Nathan’s detailed liner notes include quotes from both Táta and Iris Gordy, who worked closely on the album alongside Táta and Monseque.
Tim Dillinger/Editorial Content Manager