Much derided Jazz-Pop outfit spanning a 30 year career
The Band Matt Bianco was founded in 1982 by Mark Reilly, Danny White, Toto Poncioni and background vocalist Basia after Reilly and White left art-poppers Blue Rondo a la Turk. Their first album, Whose side are you on? turned them over night into superstars, as their mixture of Ska, Jazz and Soul, mixed with Basia's impressive and sophisticated vocal harmonies was pretty darn new in 1983. Their 50's black and white styling, mixed with postmodern flair and a couple of snappy videos helped as well. Whose side are you on sold well: a couple of gold discs here, some platinum there and Matt Bianco grew to be one of the biggest acts of the mid-eighties.
The original lineup split soon after the release of their first album (probably accelerated by that infamous interview on Saturday Superstore, and while Basia and Danny went off and tried to make Basia a superstar, Mark Reilly teamed up with ex - Wham keyboarder Mark Fisher and continued to work under the name Matt Bianco, extending the range of their music to Bossa Nova, Salsa and with "Yeh Yeh" just plain pop, releasing 3 albums under Warner Brothers. Their European tour after their second, self titled album saw them playing in front of over 250.000 happy punters in 9 different countries, and quite a show it was: 13 musicians on stage (including Tenor Saxofone legend Ronnie Ross)really ignited the stage and their pure joy at playing these tunes infected their (mainly European) audiences.
When they split from Warner Brothers in 1991 after 4 albums, they decided to release their future records themselves, searching for individual distributors in different countries. This worked well in Asia and Europe, but completely flunked in the US and the UK, as in the UK their image was a bit tarnished since the Saturday Superstore Incident, something they're still pretty pissed off about after all these years.
Since 1991 they recorded and produced their albums in their own two studios with the help of an impressive cast of studio musicians. The albums would be handed to the record-companies around the world, hoping that the ensuing PR would be good enough to sell enough CD's to make a living with the accompanying tour.
In 2004 Mark Fisher retired from the music business (once telling me that he really never wanted to be a pop star) and founded a succesful online real estate company. Mark Reilly reunited under the Matt Bianco franchise with Basia and Danny White and signed with Emarcy records to record their 12th album, the nostalgic Matt's Mood. The three of them toured the U.S. in 2005 rather successfully, with Matt's Mood selling pretty well with Basia's and Matt Bianco's fans gobbling the stuff up, but they of course split after the tour.
THis couldn't last of course, so Fisher and Reilly got back together, releasing the excellent Hi-Fi Bossanova in 2010 and are working on a new release in 2012.
Albums so far: