Part 2 - The Search Goes On!
In a previous article here I wrote about all the TV and Radio appearances Matt made which no longer exist in the archives and asked if anyone out there was able to help.
Whilst, as I expected, there wasn’t a torrent of new material, some interesting things have been discovered (with some material still to be investigated).
Over the last 18 months I have put on my trench coat and fedora and set about tracking down some of this lost material myself.
My first call was to the was UK Television Archives – Some of which are extremely helpful and others not – but I did track down some programmes dating back as far as 1961 that still exist in the ATV archives that we thought we would never see – Unfortunately we still haven’t as the present owners of the ATV archives are less willing to provide copies to the estate than many other TV companies. But at least we know they are there for future reference.
The item that the Monro family had been searching for the longest was my next quest. This was the elusive Camay advert. Matt recorded jingles for several of these adverts over two years, however Michele searched for more than 20 years to find just one!
Why? Well the problem is that even though he sang on the adverts, none of the existing Camay adverts (of which there are many) actually credit Matt on the film cans or associated paperwork. So every time Michele asked all she got in return was a negative response. It wasn’t until I started asking for help from vintage TV show collectors that I finally struck gold. I had an e-mail that said “I have about 20 Camay ads on an old VHS, perhaps one of these is what you’re after”. I waited on tenderhooks for a couple of days until the tape arrived. There, three adverts in, was what I’d been waiting for “You’ll be a little lovelier……” unfortunately this wasn’t Matt! Two more ads went by and those immortal words came on again – This time however I went cold – at last! I immediately sent Michele an audio clip who couldn’t quite believe her ears! A Camay ad had at last been found!
“…….worth 15 guineas an ounce”
The only problem was the quality, as the tape was a copy of a copy of a copy etc. The collector who sent me the tape had no record of where the clips came from originally. Fast forward to just two months ago. I was hunting for information on something else on the British Film Institute website when I came across listings for their holdings for Camay adverts. Once again no mention of Matt but one title “Hunt Ball” sounded very much like the ad we had a copy of. The British Film Institute were very helpful and after a little negotiation they said they would have a look at the film and see if it matched what I had. I sent them some stills from our low quality copy and sure enough a few weeks later they replied that this was indeed the advert they had. The only problem was that the film had not been played since it came into the BFI collection. We are now waiting to hear back from them once more to see if they have successfully been able to transfer it to DVD. The search still goes on for the other Camays – But it is unlikely that we will find any more unless we can find out what the adverts were actually called!
Another advert found after years of searching was the Pepsi company’s “Teem” Jingle. Several different takes were found and we live in hope that more of Matt’s jingles will appear in this way as time goes by.
“It’s here it’s here it’s Crystal Clear…………”
Talk of the Town and other TV Shows
Some of the items we have recovered recently have come from fans. One fan was so “Matt Mad” in the 60’s that she religiously recorded all she could from the television to an old Reel-to-Reel tape recorder. Not that we knew about this of course! It was only when in conversation with Michele earlier this year that she mentioned she happened to have the sound track from Matt’s “Talk Of The Town” television special. She had of course presumed that this still existed in the archives – oh how we wish it did!
On this tape not only did we find “Talk of the Town” but several other missing clips such as “Set Em Up Joe” from 1968. The tape was recorded with a microphone against the TV speaker, but despite this the sound quality was very good (after a little care and attention). This same fan had been recording since 1960 and had more tapes but needed to find them.
However she did find them and handed them over to me at “Fans Re-united” earlier this month. What a surprise I had. Having been told there was “nothing much” on the tapes I was braced for disappointment, but amongst the discoveries were tracks from “Lunch Box”, “A Touch Of The Norman Vaughans” “The Benny Hill Show” and the long lost 1966 “Royal Variety Performance”. At the time of writing I have not yet transferred these tapes to see what quality I will be able to draw out of them but it is still a great find as nothing exists of these performances anywhere else.
The “Lunchbox etc” tapes
Other fans have helped with recordings from The Val Doonican Show, Cilla Black Show, and more. Excerpts from Rosemary Squires show “Rendezvous with Rosemary” also appeared thanks to the lady herself. So who know what else will turn up on tape in the future?
Eurovision and Royal Variety.
Matt has been incredibly unlucky over the years when it comes to what was and wasn’t preserved. There are only two missing Eurovision song contests 1956 (the first) and 1964 (Matt’s year). The Royal Variety Performance is also well preserved. Since 1962 to the present all are archived except 1966 when Matt appeared! It makes you think that someone had something against him!
But what about TV shows where the video survives too. I recently found two programmes in an archive in Holland including the 1970 Novello awards which doesn’t exist anywhere else in the world. In the USA I have been able to confirm an edition of the Mike Douglas show still exists too.
The most exciting find though was Matt’s appearance on “This Is Tom Jones”. Long thought lost by many people including ITV and the Kaleidoscope Lost Television Society. However I finally discovered that the complete series of these was actually bought from its makers (ATV) by Tom Jones himself! Michele was able to contact the Tom Jones Organisation and they were kind enough to send her a copy. This is a fabulous programme and as ‘Time Life’ have just begun issuing some “This is Tom Jones” shows on DVD we can only hope that Mr Jones will allow Matt’s performances to be issued at some point in the future.
I’m still following up leads here – particularly with transcription service material – but recently a complete show in broadcast quality was found thanks to the great Steve Race. Matt appeared in a series called “Music About Town” in 1958 with the Steve Race Quintet. It was thought that all of these shows no longer existed until I was transferring a tape, which contained a broadcast from 15 or more years ago. The song was “In Time”. This had been traded between fans for many years. However when I finally received the original cassette that this clip was recorded on I heard the back announcement “That was Matt Monro with my Quintet in 1958”. I recognised the voice as that of Steve Race. The BBC had no record of any shows from 1958 featuring Matt in their Archives. It must have been a private recording owned by Steve himself. Having tracked him down (after hearing wrongly that he had passed away – thanks BBC!!) Michele gave him a call. Yes he did have the tape which his family had had transferred to CD. It was the final edition of the show and in perfect quality.
Not only this, but I also re-discovered the BBC broadcast of a concert Matt shared with Billy May in 1982. This once again was not in the BBC archives. Low quality off air recordings existed but nothing more. However I looked up Billy May on the National Sound Archive website and found a concert in the “Alan Dell” Collection which looked about right. No mention of Matt again but I lived in hope. I wrote to them and they confirmed from the details on the box that this tape was Part 2 of a Billy May Concert where Matt appeared but couldn’t confirm he was on the tape. Fellow researcher Steve Pattinson offered to go and have a listen. Matt was on the tape and what is more the tape is actually the broadcast master! They are pretty sure they have Part 1 too, but much of this collection is currently un-catalogued. Hopefully this will turn up in due course.
Billy May Alan Dell
Unreleased EMI recordings
Last April I spent a Day with Michele and Steve Pattinson at the EMI archives in Hayes. We looked through all the existing paperwork and I began the mammoth task of compiling the complete session details for ALL of Matt’s Studio recordings. This “Sessionography” will hopefully be included in Michele’s book.
Some of the ridiculous amounts of paperwork
I’ve had to plough through for the “Sessions” Project
However I thought I’d tell you about a few items we’ve discovered along the way.
Back in 1971 Matt had rejoined EMI UK after five years with Capitol records. He took part in several recording sessions shortly after his return to the label. The exact reason for these sessions is unclear. It is possible that they were originally intended for an album, but many of these tracks were ultimately released as singles instead. During one of these sessions an incredible 6 tracks were recorded including “Mama Packed A Picnic Tea” and “Isn’t It A Pity”. Three tracks were left in the can. One resurfaced later, which I’ll come back to shortly, but the other two not even Mickie Monro could remember.
Air Studios – Oxford Street where Matt recorded these tracks.
The studios have since relocated to Hampstead.
These two tracks “Oh My Child” and “Time To Go” were recorded live with the orchestra at Air Studios, London, had never even been mixed and only existed on the original 8 track session tapes. Thanks to the generosity of Steve Woof and EMI the tapes were retrieved from the archives and sent to me. We didn’t know what we’d find, but we were delighted to discover two fully finished recordings. These tracks have now been mixed by me and will be issued on a future compilation.
Recording sheet heading circa 1959!
What then of this third track? “Love Story” issued for the first time in the UK last year on “From Matt Monro with Love” and was recorded at the same session.
What I couldn’t understand was why this track was in Spanish. All of the other tracks recorded that session were in English so why not “Love Story” I was convinced that an English version was on the session tapes. After much nagging, Steve Woof travelled down to Abbey Road to listen on our behalf. Lo and behold there was Matt singing in English. The only unfortunate thing was that the vocal was not complete and so ultimately it was mixed with 2/3 of the vocal in English and 1/3 in Spanish. I hope to uncover a little more about the reason it exists in this way as I continue my research.
That track was released for the first time last month on “Matt at the Movies” along with a previously un-issued take of “The Wrong Time” and another track presumed lost for nearly 40 Years “When I Look In Your Eyes” which I feel ranks amongst the best recordings matt ever made. This track was originally recorded for single release, but for reasons I won’t go into here, never released. Michele was originally hoping to release this track on ‘The Rare Monro’ but at that time only the Spanish version could be found. The original English version (a completely different recording to the Spanish version rather than just a different vocal) was discovered in the vaults of Capitol records earlier this year.
Matt at the Movies which also contains a previously unheard Stereo mix of “Southern Star” Discovered during the “Sessions” project.
The search for material will never really end and you have to be like a dog with a bone when searching for material – often nagging people so much that they finally reply if only to get rid of you. Who knows what else is hidden away on an old reel tape or even on an old cine reel for instance. If anybody reading this does have something – no matter what the quality or format who you gonna call? (and no it’s not Ghostbusters!)