Matt Bianco (Featuring Basia)
2004: Universal Music International BV B0003930-02
What a marvelous surprise! Not just that Matt Bianco has re-formed, nor that Basias voice is once again gracing the contemporary music palette: the best part of the surprise is that its an absolutely lovely album. The cherry on top of the cake is novel: the posthumous participation of Ronnie Ross, the saxophonist who helped create that Matt Bianco sound years ago, included here via some recordings of him playing solo that had been essentially orphaned when he died. Thats what Ronnies Samba is about, and when you know that (and the fact that Ross played sax on Lou Reeds classic Walk On the Wild Side) the lyrics become much more significant and touching and hearing Basia sing so, children, here it is, yet another chance / Special Delivery for one final dance / prick up your ears, put on your dancing shoes / youve waited long enough, so no more time to lose gives a thrill of intimately shared joy.
Say the Wordswow, really its the kind of simply poignant song weve been missing throughout all these years of crap flash-in-the-pan singer/celebrities and heavier hitters (for better or for worsethink Janes Addiction, for example, in the Better category, but Perry never turned in something like this).
La Luna is unexpectedly sultrymy first listening didnt make me think so, but upon revisiting it I find its quite a pleasantly bumptious strutter. Thats probably a good description of most of the tracks on this album, actually, so Ill only call out a couple of others here and stamp the rest as DELICIOUS.
But Slip & Sliding is definitely my choice for Outstanding Song on this album. I dont know for sure that this is what the songwriters had in mind, but to me the lyrics (and indeed the delivery) are an interior monologue of a perennial loser intensely focused on an impressively optimistic mental track: each failure is given a positive spin as part of an overall self-shoring-up. After countless downfalls this resolute ritual has become a mantra, the bare essentials of the vital message of reassurance. Each new defeat is dealt with by reinforcing the forward movement and portraying failures as opportunities to learn and do better next timethe lyrics are so minimal that I can simply quote them here to get the point across:
Slip n sliding
Youll get it right another time
Theyre a part quotation, part paraphrase of Samuel Beckett, but theyre coming from the Matt Bianco collective and thus carry a different tone.
Also theres a delectable eloquence in the mix of enunciations here: Dannys hip looseness (albeit spot-on) juxtaposes intriguingly with Basias more concise (albeit gently so) phrasing. Overall the track has an irresistably hip sensuosity and vibrancy that captivates and delights me.
I am very, very fond of Golden Days as well; it shines and struts in a unique samba that is ever so slightly sultry around the edges.
Nearly every online review Ive read thats written by someone whos familiar with the Matt Bianco sound and history simply characterizes Kaleidoscope Dreaming as Part II of Whose Side Are You On, referring to the opening track of Whose Side Are You On. I cant disagree with that assessment: it really is as though this were an unreleased continuation of that track. Not that thats bad, not at all, its just a little funny to hear a continuation of something from 20 years ago as though thered been no break.
As for the rest of the album, I dont really have much commentary of any importance: I enjoy it all, Im gushingly grateful to the triumvirate of Mark, Danny, and Basia for coming back together and producing such a joyous gem for us to share, and I recommend it all quite sincerely to any wary skeptic.
One last comment: hearing Basia sing in Polish, as she does on Wrong Side of the Street, is a tremendous thrill for me: I dont speak Polish but I love the sound of any less-prevalent-than-English language sung by its native speakers, especially when the singer is as strong and elegant as Basia. Not only does it fascinate my ear and brain (and challenge me, reminding me that English isnt musics only language), it also re-energizes my wish to learn to at least understand that language if not become fluent in it. (For the record, two other languages that I have that reaction to are Bulgarian [because of Le Mystère des Voix Bulgares] and Arabic [because of countless artists and recordingsits prolific and usually intensely compelling to me in music]).
Comments © 2005 Mark Ellis Walker, except as noted, and no claim is made to the images and quoted lyrics.