September 12, 2020

Matt Bianco - Whose Side Are You On (1984) - €10,00



Whose Side Are You On? is the debut album by British band Matt Bianco, released in 1984. For this album, Matt Bianco was a trio of Basia Trzetrzelewska (vocals), Mark Reilly (vocals), and Danny White (keyboards).

If one is to be charitable, they were part of a contrary and artistically, almost quite interesting reaction against punk and, more accurately, post-punk. Of that, there is no doubt. The distinctly coffee-table vibe was pretty novel at the time. For that, they should be lauded, along with other first-footers like Sade and even Swing Out Sister. On the other hand, that very aesthetic lends their music a distinct wine bar vibe. Aspirational and, though the band themselves may not be, a rather pointed, almost Thatcherite reaction against the drudgery of the ’70s and early ’80s. Plus the end game for this particular movement was bands like Curiosity Killed the Cat, and that can never be excused.
It is, however, a piece of music and on that, it must be judged, however hard it is to escape seeing it as a historical artefact in a wider context. An artefact that forms a bridge from the grimly worthy guitar scene at the time to the even grimmer modern reality of All Bar One and the Prosecco Years.
So what does this expanded reissue of the debut album sound like? It’s slick, jazz-inflected with jittery Latin rhythms, polished to within an inch of its life. It’s pleasant and there’s no doubt that the songwriting duo, Mark Reilly and Danny White know their way around a glistening pop hook. Some almost bossa nova rhythms drag tunes like ‘More Than I Can Bear‘ along with fellow band member Basia Trzetrzelewska also providing vocals. It’s considered and in many ways so terribly, terribly polite. It certainly reflects a feeling from the time which was beginning to look outwards. Outwards towards espadrilles, cheap foreign holidays and a rather tamer take on the new romantic look. Revolution it was not trying to be, and it isn’t.
The effect over the double CD is simultaneously enlightening and alarming. Enlightening as it shows the relatively anarchic state of the music industry at the time that relative chart success came their way and, alarming as it really is just pleasant. It’s not overtly offensive, it’s not thrilling, it’s…nice. Whether that’s what Robert Johnson flogged his soul for is a moot point. It probably is what caused a few ageing new romantics to take off their eyeliner and discover the joys of a dry white wine on the way home from work – weather dependent. This is music for sunny days or a fortnight in Malaga. Perhaps it even encouraged more investigation into Latin music. Certainly intrigued Emilio Estefan (husband and producer of Gloria Estefan) enough to get involved on later singles. Tracks like ‘Matt’s Mood‘, with its rattling cowbell, make it easy to see why a dancefloor producer may take an interest. In fact stripping it back even further would make a pretty solid club track. More is more, as was too often the way at the time, however.
Matt Bianco are still an ongoing concern, with at least one reunion of the original lineup, barring the unfortunately deceased Kito Poncioni. A nicely carved out career involving taking control of their own recording processes and releasing on an ad hoc basis, it must be said.
In addition to the original album, there are a host of b-sides and alternate mixes. As usual some fare better than others. An extended mix of the parping jollity of ‘Get Out Of Your Lazy Bed‘ may prove a little too much to bear but the five-minute take of the aforementioned ‘Matt’s Mood‘ is actually rather good. Plenty in there for the fans anyway, with demos and whatnot. Indeed the rougher, less produced version of ‘Half A Minute‘ is considerably superior to that tossed out the studio machine. There’s a life in its more organic take.
Pick and choose and there’s some decent stuff here. If all that fails head to YouTube and examine their infamous appearance on Saturday Superstore. A true classic of ’80s youth culture.


Side A
A1. Whose Side Are You On? - 4:32
A2. More Than I Can Bear - 4:15
A3. No No Never - 3:43
A4. Half a Minute - 3:49
A5. Matt’s Mood - 5:19

Side B
B1. Get Out of Your Lazy Bed - 3:28
B2. It’s Getting Late - 3:29
B3. Sneaking Out the Back Door - 3:46
B4. Riding With the Wind - 3:22
B5. Matt’s Mood II - 5:15


Notes
Release:  1984
Format:  LP
Genre:  Sophisti-pop
Label:  WEA Records
Catalog#  WX 7 240472-1

Vinyl:  VG+
Cover:  VG+

Prijs: €10,00

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