Lancashire Times
A Voice of the North
Graham Clark
Features Writer
11:47 AM 26th November 2020

Matt Bianco And New Cool Collective (Matt Entertainment)

Fans of Matt Bianco have been used to changes over the years: the band were originally a 3 piece until Basia left to pursue a successful solo career, then they became a two piece with Mark Fisher sadly dying in 2016, which leaves Mark Reilly who is really Matt Bianco.

On this new album Reilly has combined forces with the Amsterdam based jazz pioneers New Cool Collective. If you are used to the acid jazz and nu soul of Matt Bianco of old you might be surprised by this new album. Influences from Ska and blues are there along with the Latin, jazz, soul and R&B.

Rather than resting on his laurels Reilly has come out of his comfort zone for this intriguing album.

The first track is probably the one that is more tuned into the Matt Bianco sound of old, High Anxiety, the album title track is a breezy jazzy affair that Georgie Fame could have written, not surprisingly Matt Bianco covered Yeh Yeh a song made famous by Fame.

Big Mouth has those Latin influences, the song could be a cousin to The Zombies, She’s Not There but really on tracks like this the combination of Reilly and New Cool Collective come together like they were made for each other.

When The Ghosts Come Out To Play has a spooky edge to it, much like The Specials 1981 Number 1 Ghost Town although this track on the album is underpinned with a lilting shuffle.

I Won’t Be Sad To See You Go goes from a rumbling beat to a jazzy middle eight, one for the jazz purists, this is like Matt Bianco as you never have heard before.

Unconditional is designed to be heard on a summer's night under the light of the moon; this jazzy ballad is one of the many highlights on the album. I’m Travelling sounds like it has been written with Matt Bianco in mind, though a funky edge gives the track an upbeat edge.

If You Feel Like Dancing ends the album, somehow it reminds me of UB40. “I’ll always be there if you need me” sings Reilly. Nothing could be more truer, for the last 36 years Matt Bianco have been there in one form or another.

Hopefully we will get some concerts in 2021 from Matt Bianco with the New Cool Collective, now that would be really cool.

I rate the album 4 out of 5.