BASIA: ‘London, Warsaw, New York’ (Cherry Pop)

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This was the second album by noted Polish-born singer Basia (pronounced ‘Basha’), who first rose to fame in the early ’80s as part of Matt Bianco, a successful pop-jazz trio led by Danny White whose British hits included ‘Get Out Of Your Lazy Bed.’ In 1986, Basia went solo, signed to Epic and released an impressive debut LP, ‘Time & Tide’ (reissued by Cherry Red in 2013), which yielded the UK hit ‘Promises.’ The album did even better in the USA and paved the way for her magnum opus and second Epic long player, 1990’s ‘London, Warsaw, New York.’ Phenomenally successful in America, it topped the Contemporary Jazz Albums chart and shifted one million copies. Out-of-print for years, the album is now resurrected as a 2-CD deluxe reissue that is packed with a slew of bonus material.

Production-wise, ‘London, Warsaw, New York’ is a perfect example of machine-tooled late-’80s pop-soul with its effervescent vocals and crisp, drum-machine-heavy arrangements. Most of the material is co-penned by the singer herself together with her Matt Bianco sparring partner, Danny White (brother of smooth jazz guitarist, Peter White). The pick of the nine songs that they wrote together is the lovely boss nova groove, ‘Baby, Be Mine,’ with the samba-esque ‘Take Him Back, Rachel’ coming a close second. There’s a seductive jazz vibe, too, to the Latin-flavoured ‘Ordinary People,’ which allows Basia to show off her vocal dexterity. The album includes a solitary cover, a decent and punchy take on Aretha Franklin’s Stevie Wonder-co-penned ’70s hit, ‘Until You Come Back To Me,’ which is enhanced by jazzy muted horns, woodwind charts and a couple of Fairlight orchestral ‘hits’ (de rigueur on late-’80s pop records). Appended to the original album are two non-album single B-sides – the brash ‘Come To Heaven’ and the sweetly harmonised jazz-funk groove ‘Masquerade’ – plus extended mixes of the set’s three offshoot singles.

Disc two is a cornucopia of riches for the Basia completist (if such an animal exists). It contains an additional eighteen tracks, including alternate mixes of the singles plus a previously unissued instrumental version of the complete album as well as four never-heard-before demos. The liner notes include pertinent reminiscences by Basia, herself, and partner, Danny White, rounding off what is a well-produced reissue for fans of one of the late-’80s/early-’90s classiest pop-jazz-soul chanteuses.

(CW) 3/5