Tata Vega was already an accomplished singer by the time Full Speed Ahead, her solo debut for Motown, was released in 1976. Vega started out in musical theater but began her recording career as part of a rock group called Earthquire. Vega's voice is ruggedly soulful and somewhat mannered, perhaps too much so to have broad commercial appeal. Notably, Vega was the singing voice of the character Shug Avery in the film version of The Color Purple. For her debut single "Full Speed Ahead" Vega jumped on Motown's disco train. On the heels of the label's monumental success with Ross's "Love Hangover" and Thelma Houston's "Don't Leave Me This Way", Motown should have been able to come up with something great for Vega. "Full Speed Ahead" is a charging disco tune that is well-sung but lacks the sweep and drama of Motown's other disco successes. Vega covers Stevie Wonder's "Never Had A Dream Come True" in a curiously vanilla manner, especially when we know she is capable of depth and soul. Full Speed Ahead is solidly produced and amply demonstrates that Vega is a very talented vocalist. However, none of the songs exhibit the kind of mass appeal that was Motown's specialty. The standout is "Just When Things Are Getting Good", a brilliant, radio-friendly track with a star-making vocal performance. In fact, "Just When Things..." is exactly the kind of anguished soul ballad that future Motown star Teena Marie would make her hallmark. Coincidentally, Teena co-authored a different track on Full Speed Ahead titled "Just As Long As There is You", a pleasant but undistinguished midtempo.
Side One Full Speed Ahead Try Love From The Inside Never Had A Dream Come True Just When Things Are Getting Good Been On My Own Too Long
Side Two Love Is All You Need Music In My Heart Keep It Coming Just As Long As There Is You Try God