Thursday, April 15, 2010

Minor Hits Of The '80s: Matt Bianco Edition

Like most of you, I have been collecting music since I was very young. As I transferred my favorites from format to format, I sold off many pieces of vinyl from my teen years. It is one of my great regrets. Over the years I have slowly replaced many of the records I sold in my youth. There are, however, a handful of records I could never bring myself to sell. One of those LPs is Matt Bianco's 'Whose Side Are You On?' I have the same copy I bought in 1984. It's an odd thing since -- outside of this one LP -- I'm not even a fan of the band.

I loved 'Whose Side Are You On?' for three reasons:
1) It was the first time I discovered jazz arrangements in pop songs. This sent me on the road to the Style Council and Everything But The Girl.
2) Basia Trzetrzelewska possessed the most beautiful voice I had ever heard.
3) They were relatively unknown on this side of the Atlantic, and I liked to think the band was all mine.

The truth is, Matt Bianco was huge in Europe (and the UK in particular). 'Whose Side Are You On?' produced four singles in the UK. "Get Out Of Your Lazy Bed" was the biggest hit... peaking at No. 15. Basia sang lead on "Half A Minute," and the song shot to No. 23. As a young teen listening to the album on the family stereo in America, I didn't know anything about this success. I found Matt Bianco like I discovered most bands. I turned on MTV. The videos that hooked me were for the title track and "More Than I Can Bear." So, those are the two songs I present today... ripped from my 26-year-old vinyl. I hope they hook you, too.

I didn't stick with Matt Bianco beyond this album because Trzetrzelewska and keyboardist Danny White became a couple and left the band in 1985 to form Basia. They were immediately more successful than their old band, which did press on, but Basia's sound was a little too adult contemporary for a teen that was about to discover punk. The original lineup of Matt Bianco did briefly reunite in 2004 for one album, but Trzetrzelewska and White quickly left to get Basia going again. Ah, pop stars.

Matt Bianco - Whose Side Are You On? (mp3)
Matt Bianco - More Than I Can Bear (mp3)

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