Oh look, a little parcel from Japan. From somebody called Joshi. What might it be?


Mmh. Might it be…?


Indeed, it looks like….


Yes indeed! It’s Matt Bianco’s new album, the mysteriously titled Hideaway. Released in Japan without any announcement to even their most loyal fans (apart from one snippet of a statement after the last gig at Ronny Scotts) back in Europe, it’s a veritable soft launch. From what would the fabled Mark and Mark (Fisher and Reilly, respectively. Or the other way around. The choice is yours.) want to hide away from? The pope? Surely not. Their critics? Naah. The taxman? This is Matt Bianco, not Bono (although they are so much preferable to that Irish git with a Mandela complex), so we are unlikely looking at a quadruple platinum seller in the UK. Single Platinum would of course be nice. Nope, I think they are most likely hiding away from the stressors of modern pop star life, the screaming fans, the limos, the never-ending plates of expensive mushroom dinners, the expensive Italian luxury hotels and, likely, Daleks. So, after years spent slaving away in their secret studio rumoured to be situated under the bunker of a non-descript government building in the capital of a non-descript European country , this top-secret album is now out, in the wild, to be listened to by their devoted fan base and used as beer mats.

So, what is it like?

It’s actually quite good. It’s absofeckinlutely enjoyable  brilliant (editing by best girlfriend ever). After popping it into the CD-player for the first time you might ask yourself what the big fuss is all about and struggle to keep the songs apart, but after the third listen you start humming and after one day you can’t get the bloody songs out of your brain. In my case, ‘Kiss the Bride’ and ‘Medusa’ are currently fighting a pitched battle for supremacy somewhere in my right cortex, with ‘Medusa’ slowly winning. As usual, the quality of the soloists is amazing (Tony Fisher’s flugel horn solo especially noteworthy), the songwriting is solid, and the entertainment value is as usual unsurpassed. ‘Kiss the Bride’, a cover of Nick the Nightfly‘s ode to marriage is beautifully arranged with Mark Reilly almost displaying veritable crooner credentials. There is only one slight ‘WTF’ moment when during ‘Falling’ synth chords more reminiscent of a Nolan Sisters gig in Blackpool in the early eighties zap through the Klipschs, but it’s all in good humour, and you quickly get used to it.

BTW, just in case you don’t know who the Nolan Sisters are:

So, should you buy it?

Of course.

It’s MB’s twelfth album, 45 minutes of music by two great songwriters, and as usual it will make you whistle, sing, dance and from time to time slap your forehead.


I started playing bass about a year ago (Fordiebianco recommends Wesley bass guitars: the bass of choice for those musicians who don’t want to pay through their nose and don’t see the need to spend 3000 pounds if they only play on the weekends and anyway: what’s good enough for JJ Abrams is good enough for me) and therefore always keep a special eye on what the bass guy is doing when I go to gigs.

Image from Rogerbeajolais.com

Nick Cohen, the bass player for Matt Bianco, obviousy hasn’t that much to do during a gig: MB’s music has never put high value on low frequency acrobatics, preferring their bass players (if they actually have one on the record. For years it used to be a DX7) to be gently accompaying them in the background. Always with a slight air of boredom, Nick stands there on the stage, observing the other guys standing around (ok, I admit it: there is not much movement on stage during a MB concert, it’s all a bit static), doing his thing. When I had a look at his website, I was surprised at the variety of projects he has been involved with and ordered some stuff from his back catalogue. One project stands out: Vibraphonic had 2 albums out on the seminal ‘Acid Jazz’ label, 2 albums on ‘Hollywood Records’ and one album on Tony Remy’s  ‘StayTuned’ label and after ordering from various second hand outfits I now have a nice collection of their albums (though I stayed away from ‘A vibraphonic christmas’ {No, I am not joking}).

They fit in perfectly into my Acid Jazz collection, proudly standing near The James Taylor Quartet, Galliano and the Jamiroquai collection. What’s their sound like? Well, it’s funky (yep. Nick Cohen does the funk), jazzy and unsurprisingly there is a vibraphone played by the oenologically named Roger Beaujolais (no, really). Think ‘The James Taylor Quartet’ meets Drizabone meets a vibraphone player.  Quite pleasant, actually.

Which just once again proves that Matt Bianco is the centre of the musical universe. I am sure there are connections to Metallica and Blue Oyster Cult as well.