Spotlight on ……
I guess I first become aware of the late Matt Monro in the mid-60’s in Aden listening to him on Forces Radio (my parents were in the RAF). His music was absolutely distinctive! Often you’ll hear a song and wonder who it’s by but Matt Monro’s voice is so particular, you’re always sure with him.
I like a very eclectic range of music, from Beatles to Abba, Bowie to (some) Punk, Musicals and even Classical. The big movie titles ‘From Russia With Love’ and ‘The Italian Job’ are among my favourite Matt Monro offerings but I have to confess to being a bit of a ‘softie’ because my absolute favourite is ‘Born Free’. Matt’s songs are really an integral component in all of these films. Just one snippet of Matt’s voice on these tracks, immediately transports you back, whether to the rolling Savannahs, Cold war Istanbul or to the coach perched on the mountain bend.
I was asked if I thought the singer should also receive an Oscar as well as the songwriters and yes there’s certainly an argument to be made here. Clearly the composer and lyricist are essential but then the contribution of the singer has importance too. If anyone else had sung the title track in the movie Born Free, I’m not sure that it would have been the hit it became across the world.
Matt came to prominence in the 60’s when the modern vogue was for Beat, Psychedelia and later Rock. In a sense Matt’s music was old-fashioned and yet he succeeded at a time of great change. Why? I think it was because Matt had such a distinctive style. His enunciation was crystal clear and he remained true to his principles and didn’t try to ape new trends. He came across as a thoroughly decent bloke and this helped too.
I recently read Michele’s book ‘The Singer’s Singer – The Life and Music of Matt Monro’ and it was clearly a labour of love and yet it avoided tripping over into sentimentality and remains a comprehensive reference source. It was really well written and although it took me some time to finish (work commitments meaning I have very little reading time) I thoroughly enjoyed the book. Michele is to be congratulated and I recommend ‘The Singer’s Singer’ to anyone interested in the world of Entertainment.
I set up my company MEM (Music and Cinema Memorabilia) because of my passion for the silver screen and music and I have spent many a weekend rooting out vintage posters and EP and record covers to add to my stock. Original gig memorabilia from the 60’s is always difficult to find but the search proves fruitful as the pieces always sell well. I conservation mount a lot of the stock and this has always included Matt Monro records. These make wonderful display pieces once framed and on the wall and makes a great change from just storing albums in a cupboard. Whenever I manage to source Matt’s ‘From Russia With Love’, it flies out of stock. It isn’t just an iconic film; the Bond name always garners added attention.
I actually met Michele when I was working a display at Vintage at Goodwood last year, her stall was a couple of doors away from mine and whilst she was browsing my stock we struck up a conversation. She in fact bought several pieces of her fathers as well as a rare Beatles collectible she wanted to buy her business partner Richard Moore for Christmas and I in turn bought her book, which she generously signed for me. Michele recently got in touch and asked if I would do some special mounts ready for a gathering she is holding in September of this year ‘Fans Reunited’ and we have both been trying to source a few rarities for the occasion.
Michele has also asked me to keep an eye out for anything unusual that pops up on her father as obviously I come across a wide spectrum of material all the time. I am genuinely thrilled that she has taken up the gauntlet to promote her father’s legacy as too often good performers fall by the wayside. A lot of radio stations have stopped playing that sort of music, which is a great loss to those amongst us who still love that genre of music but I remain optimistic that Michele will continue to make noises along the corridors of the BBC to ensure the music doesn’t die. If I had to describe Matt Monro in three words they would be:
Distinctive, memorable and decent.
Mike’s work can be made to order and he has a wonderful array of stock at MEM, which make fantastic presents. Make sure you check out his websites