Matt Bianco: Half A Minute

WEA | UK  | 12" | 1984 | YZ26T

WEA | UK | 12″ | 1984 | YZ26T

Matt Bianco: Half A Minute UK 12″ [1984]

  1. Half A Minute [ext. ver.]
  2. Matts Mood II [ext. ver.]

When I bought the debut album by Matt Bianco in 1984, the cut that leaped off the wax to lodge deepest in my ears, was the track that the band’s backing vocalist, Basia Trzetrzelewska, took her sole lead on. Not that lead vocalist Mark Reilly was chopped liver, but the chops that Basia brought to her delightful vocal arrangements strongly made me a fan from point zero. Though I didn’t know it at the time, this was the fourth of five singles peeled off of the “Whose Side Are You On,” making it a veritable greatest hits album as well as being an excellent example of the NWOBJP trend, which by this time was in full swing.

It was during my first visit to Tampa’s Vinyl Fever in 1985 on the occasion of a Tears For Fears concert [not good] at the USF Sundome* that my crew and I hit the legendary store where I found this 12″ single; the first Matt Bianco record I’d seen since buying their album [not easy]. The A-side had been gently extended in the accepted styles of the day which were just about to undergo a radical change in the next year or so. Not here, though. The arrangement was padded out with easy vamping and the results bore the full stamp of the original. The carmel-smooth sax of Ronnie Ross was a particular delight of this song, next to the dulcet tones of Ms. Trzetrzelewska herself.

The B-side, was an LP track that was also extended. The spy-fi intsro “Matts Mood II” closed out side two of their album proper, and here was given extension at the hands of mixmaster Phil Harding, who had engineered the full album as well. The dance vibe was always there in his work, though it was flavored with jazz for his Matt Bianco work. It was still jazz pop that met the dance floor halfway. If I had to hear DX7 keyboards, they were at least better suited to this genre than my beloved Post-Punk. If Post-Punk wasn’t already dead by this time, surely digital synths would have liked it off.

Within two years of this single, Basia had begun her solo assault of the charts with Danny White in tow, giving the world albums full of music that had the fine qualities of this single. I was pleased to hear “Time + Tide” but as an early fan of her Matt Bianco period, this single was the blueprint and harbinger for her eventual solo career.  When she and Danny White rejoined Mark Reilly in 2004 for the “Matts Mood” album, that was a return to roots that I’ve yet to see a copy of. Until then, my eyes are open.

– 30 –

* – Fact: No concert at the USF Sundome is ever good…

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10 Responses to Matt Bianco: Half A Minute

  1. Echorich says:

    Aside from the fact that there are probably less than a classroom full of US Matt Bianco fans Monk, I think is a brave and noble thing to admit. I am a Matt Bianco believer as well. They had their patchy period, but Mr. Reilly know’s how to write a great pop song and bath it in a smooth jazz sauce.
    I have to say your unconscious description “The carmel-smooth sax of Ronnie Ross…” rather than caramel, works on so many pop referencing levels…as we are both huge fans of Ms. McCourt + Co.
    While I’m with you on the DX-7 and it’s assault on Post Punk after 1982, I believe reports of Post Punk’s death were premature. Sure, the glory days and depth of releases were well on the wane by ’84, for my money, there was a needed slimming down in the ranks of Post Punk and a natural mutation into other genres as the decade progressed (regressed). This is a discussion for another time, of course.
    As for NWOBJP, I was and still am a HUGE fan of the genre. Everything But The Girl, Sade, Animal Nightlife, The Style Council, Loose Ends, Matt Bianco, Carmel, Working Week… I can go on and on…

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    • postpunkmonk says:

      Echorich – Glad you picked up on the gratuitous McCourt reference. I could not resist. I bought the first three Matt Bianco albums and thought that “Indigo” was ultimately missable, and thereupon lost the plot with MB, though my friend Mr. Kane recently gave me a JPN CD of “World Go Round” and enjoyed the movement into flamenco a lot! I suspect that I could buy any post-WEA MB album and given that Mr. Reilly and Mr. Fisher produced the albums in-house [probably to their satisfaction] and then shopped them to labels implies that I’d likely enjoy them. A “classroom full of US Matt Bianco fans?” Really?

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      • Echorich says:

        I figured saying a handful would be really underestimating the situation, but actually maybe not. They are most remembered for launching Basia’s brief career of course, and got a little radio love when Emilio Estefan produced them, but really there probably less people in the classroom than on a Friday night parent-teacher conference…lol.

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  2. HEY THE CLASS CLOWN HAS ARRIVED! WACKA WACKA!

    Yeah, I remember this single — I actually liked the B-side better, cuz I’m cuckoo for jazzy-spy-thriller b-side puffs! Basia’s later career didn’t interest me, but Carmel (I spotted that reference to, for the record), Weekend, Sade, EBTG and of course Swing Out Sister and the aforementioned Meet Danny Wilson … et cetera … there’s a REAL FINE LINE between the worst of those groups and the best of the WLOQ playlist (remember THEM, Monk?), but part of what fascinated me about these groups was their ability to (largely) stay on the right side of the line.

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  3. zoo says:

    The sound in the Sun Dome is horrid. I suppose that’s why you said no concert there is good.

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    • postpunkmonk says:

      zoo – Not just sound, but also in vision. At the Scumdome, the sight lines are compromised by the gargantuan support columns! One time my friends drove 90 miles to see Icehouse open up for the last Cars tour, and even though the arena was all but empty, the fascist security there prevented us from moving from our seats [conveniently behind an architectural enhancement] to a spot where we could actually see the band. Of course, we left angry and had no problem blowing off the headliner! All shows there were awful: Duran Duran. Inxs. Frank Sinatra.

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