What an awful month July turned out to be in terms of losses in show business. Dad’s great mates Tony Bennett and Vince Hill left us, so did the great actor Alan Arkin and more recently Sinead O’Connor. It’s always so sad to say goodbye to those that left a big impact on the industry and my prayers go out to all the families. We are lucky in that their legacies will continue and we will be able to watch and listen to the great catalogues of work they left behind for us to enjoy.
Another great friend of Dad, television producer Yvonne Littlewood sadly passed away on the 7 July and only a few months ago I had been in touch with her about some television slides in her collection in the hope some might contain Dad. In a letter I received a few weeks later she expressed her regret that she hadn’t found any but recalled happy times when they worked together. She will be sadly missed by her only next of kin, cousin Peter Knapper, her friends and colleagues.
Thank you all for your lovely messages sent on Mum’s birthday, it is fabulous that you not only remember Dad but the great lady who pushed him to follow his dreams. You know what they say…. Behind every great man….
An independent stage and screenwriter has approached the Estate who is currently working on a project ‘The Last Crooners’. Very much in its infancy but the premise is to make episodes on the different later-day singers such as Michael Buble, Tony Bennett, Harry Connick Jr and of course Dad. An American director is flying into London at the beginning of this month and a decision will be made whether just to make a feature-length documentary or a series of individual 30-minute programs. Watch this space.
Last month was exciting with the release of Dad’s new project The Complete EMI Recordings 1971- 1984. Despite taking more than two years to put together and get clearance, it was worth all the blood, sweat and tears to see it available finally. I did a flurry of radio interviews including a special on Siren and chillijazz.com. I have to thank all the presenters who never fail to give me air time to help promote new projects. Having said that despite Richard and I pushing it on our websites and social media pages, I’ve had three fans message me today about watching Dad on a 1974 episode of Wheeltappers and Shunters and none of them knew of the new release.
You can find an interview I recorded with Tom Stevens, promoting the new album here: – https://www.mixcloud.com/MattMonro/matt-monro-special-chilijazz/
For the sake of repeating myself but for those not in the know yet here’s a little background.
Back in April 2021, Richard spoke to Cherry Red Records about putting together a Matt Monro set. They were very interested in the idea and he suggested we look at the latter part of dad’s career. The cogs turn very slowly in licensing departments of major record companies these days, so it wasn’t until late 2022 that we got the green light from Warner Music to go ahead.
Of course, when Richard does a Matt Monro product, it’s never just a “throw on the usual old masters” project (actually that goes for all his work), but this particular project needed a little more tender loving care than others because historically, this part of dad’s catalogue hadn’t been treated very well.
Two albums – For the Present and The Other Side of the Stars had been issued on CD before (as an old EMI 2on1), but large chunks of these, for reasons unknown, were dubbed from vinyl and not very good quality vinyl either. What makes it worse is that these travesties are what is available on download and streaming services these days so avoid at all costs!
The other two albums, The Long and Winding Road and If I Never Sing Another Song had never been issued on CD in their entirety and again some of the tracks from the latter LP had also been taken from vinyl when issued on compilations.
The vinyl dubs were inexcusable and lazy. The master tapes are all in fine condition in the Warner archives and always have been so there was no excuse. I’ll let Richard tell you the rest….
There are other problems that I’ve tried to rectify over the years where I can – The lost master tapes for Matt’s Philippines recorded tracks for instance have made masters for those songs, somewhat lacking in quality.
This set contains everything Matt recorded for Columbia/EMI from the time he left Capitol to his very last recordings and includes a couple of unreleased versions of songs plus all his jingles from the era and a couple of previously unheard live tracks recorded in Australia.
Let’s go over the discs one by one
Disc 1 contains the full For the Present LP ALL from the master tape. Much of this album wasn’t remastered again as all (save for one track) had been issued on compilations from my remasters of these tracks over the last 12 or so years. I did some comparisons and decided that these couldn’t really be improved upon, but “Speak Softly Love” I’d never touched so that is new here. Likewise, the singles in the main are the same as the Complete Singles Collection and outtakes and jingles that I’d previously remastered (issued on Matt Uncovered etc) were generally left alone. There were a couple of big exceptions.
Historia De Amor was only issued in Spain in 1973. It had to wait until From Matt with Love in 2007 to get a release elsewhere. At that point, only a vinyl copy could be found and was used as the basis for that release. The mixdown master tape is missing so this time I returned to the session tape and remixed the track so it could be heard in pristine condition.
Historia De Amour is of course the Spanish version of Love Story. For this too, I went back to the multitrack master and remixed. Not all of Matt’s attempt at an English vocal survives, wiped during the recording of the Spanish vocal, but 2/3rds of It does. The mix we used in the past (by Peter Mew at Abbey Road) was always a little dry for my tastes, so a remix was done. Besides the final verse, The last line of the surviving part of the English vocal “It’s Always There” had also been wiped, making the song sound unfinished. I decided to see what could be done to complete it. In all, there were 4 takes. Takes 1 & 2 were both false starts by the orchestra. Take 3 was a full take and included Matt’s live English vocal. George Martin evidently wasn’t happy with some aspects of the song, so attempted another take, but without Matt, intending to add a vocal later. It was this take 4 that was used for the bulk of the Spanish vocal. However, that take fell apart in the last section so the final part of the Spanish vocal comes from take 3 – hence the wiping of the end of the English vocal. There were no other takes to help complete the missing line. As it happened, the line was partly on tape. You can still hear “It’s al……….”
I decided to hunt through the rest of Matt’s catalogue to see if I could find the words “Always there”. You’d think that there would be plenty of songs which use one word or another, but there are surprisingly few songs Matt sang with the word “Always” Thankfully I struck lucky and found both words together in the song “I Love You Because” So the words were transplanted from one song, re-pitched to the correct notes and added into the vocal. Whilst the result isn’t perfect, it’s more satisfying to hear the phrase finish, rather than it stopping straight after “I reach for her hand….”
1 Singin’ In The Rain
2 First Of May
4 Didn’t We
5 Speak Softly Love
6 Bridge Over Troubled Water
7 I Am
8 Curiouser And Curiouser
9 Ethel Baby (Mr Wonderful)
10 Till Then My Love
11 The Me I Never Knew
12 Sarah’s Coming Home
13 Time to Go
14 O My Child
15 Only Friends
16 Mama Packed A Picnic Tea
17 Isn’t It A Pity
18 Love Story – (NEW MIX)
19 This Way Mary
20 Wish Now Was Then
21 Didn’t We (Alt Arrangement)
22 How Can I Live Without Your Love
23 Historia De Amor (Love Story) – (NEW MIX)
24 Let The Train Take The Strain (Jingle)
Tracks 1 – 12 From the album For The Present
Disc 2 is based on The Other Side of The Stars LP issued in 1975, although recording started way back in 1972 before For The Present had been released. The album seems to have been forgotten about for two years and then rushed out without any quality control. A large number of the tracks were issued in the form of rough mixes, created for reference at the end of the sessions. One song, I’m Glad I’m Not Young Any More, was so bad it was smothered in reverb and a nasty trumpet fluff in the instrumental section. Looking at the multitracks, it appears that not every song used the vocal marked “master” either. It had long been an ambition of mine to fix the album after mixing some alternate takes for the album The Alternate Monro in 2013. I, therefore, took this opportunity to try and let this album get a bit of love!
I already had 2/3rd of the multitracks for the LP dating from the Alternate Monro sessions, and with Michele’s permission, Cherry Red kindly arranged for the last two reels to be sent over too.
The whole album – plus two out-takes from the sessions released later on compilations – was completely remixed from the 16-track session reels. Whilst more than one vocal was available on some songs, I decided to keep the vocal takes as they were on the original album release as this is what listeners were used to. There was small one exception to this. The track Your Sensational used a vocal where Matt was very slightly sharp on one line (a rarity!) I substituted this with a line from another take. The other major change in content was fixing the trumpet mistake on the originally released take of I’m Glad I’m Not Young Anymore, which still annoyed arranger/conductor Colin Keyes 40 years later when I spoke to him about recording Matt. Colin, wherever you may be, I’ve finally fixed it for you. As a little extra on this edition, the alternate version of the song from The Alternate Monro now includes Colin’s count in.
These new, clear and polished mixes finally show just how great and detailed Colin’s arrangements were. I was never a fan of this album but now look at it very differently.
Here’s a good example of the improvements. On the 2 on 1, the High hat on the intro was partially removed by noise reduction. A remaster from the original mix is an improvement, but the high hat is far too high in the mix.
The two additional tracks recorded during these sessions also never had proper mixes. Yesterday When I Was Young was OK, but I felt a remix would make it match the sound of the rest of the albums. The final song, It’s That Time Again was another matter entirely. Featuring Matt in full Scott Walker mode, It must have been recorded as a potential single, as a contemporary song it wasn’t part of the theme. The rough mix issued on The Rare Monro also used a vocal, where Matt fluffs a line. A second vocal recording was mostly better. It’s likely, had the song been mixed properly, that a master would have been created using the best sections of each take, which is exactly what I did for this remix.
1 Let There Be Love – (NEW MIX)
2 What A Wonderful World – (NEW MIX)
3 When You Wish Upon A Star – (NEW MIX)
4 Over The Rainbow – (NEW MIX)
5 For All We Know – (NEW MIX)
6 Let Me Sing And I’m Happy – (NEW MIX)
7 Be My Love – (NEW MIX)
8 Chattanooga Choo Choo – (NEW MIX)
9 I Love You Because – (NEW MIX)
10 No Regrets – (NEW MIX)
11 You’re Sensational – (NEW MIX)
12 I’m Glad I’m Not Young Anymore – (NEW MIX)
13 Yesterday When I Was Young – (NEW MIX)
14 It’s That Time Again – (NEW MIX)
15 I Am In Life
16 There Ya Go
17 What A Wonderful World (Take 2)
18 Let There Be Love (Take 2)
19 Let Me Sing And I’m Happy (Take 1)
20 Yesterday When I Was Young (Alternate Vocal)
21 I’m Glad I’m Not Young Anymore (Take 4)
22 Amour Habla Me Dulcemente
Tracks 1 – 12 From the album The Other Side of the Stars
Disc 3 contains the full 1975 LP The Long and Winding Road fully remastered from the original master tape. The majority of the other tracks are the same as previously released masters apart from the two unreleased tracks mastered from their ¼” master tapes. Darling Come Home Soon (early version) is an alternate vocal and mix which was rejected. A new vocal was recorded for the final version. The final mix includes the backing vocals in slightly different places too. This track first came to my attention as an acetate.
It should be noted that whilst John Burgess is listed as the producer of this LP, One song, The Auction dates from a 1969 Capitol Session with George Martin and Ready Steady Go was produced by Peter Sullivan.
2 You And Me Against The World
3 Only Once
4 Did It Happen
5 Sunday Kind Of Woman
6 I Can’t Stop Loving You
7 I Close My Eyes And Count To Ten
8 All The Wishing In The World
9 The Auction
10 Ready Steady Go
11 Friend, Lover, Woman, Wife
12 The Long And Winding Road
13 I’ve So Much To Be Thankful For
14 Did It Happen (Early Version)
15 And You Smiled
16 How Could I Ever Leave You
17 Darling Come Home Soon
18 So Little Time
19 The Little Things
20 One Last Try
21 Darling Come Home Soon (Early Mix) *
22 And You Smiled (Spanish) *
23 The Wonder Of Woolworths (Jingle)
24 Zal (Jingle)
Tracks 1 – 12 From the album The Long And Winding Road
Disc 4 follows suit and contains the complete If I Never Sing Another Song LP from 1979, once again fully remastered from the master tape. The gap between the songs was very short on the album and I have kept those original times for this release. The Long and Winding Road also originally included on this album was omitted rather than repeat the song, as the mixes were identical.
Again, most of the rest of the tracks on this disc are as previous releases, however, there are some exceptions. Alone Am I comes from a recently discovered original master tape for the score of Tomorrow Never Comes and was completely remastered for this set, as were the two Philippines recorded songs Be My Lady and Memory. Despite many years of searching, the master tapes for these songs cannot be found. I last remastered these tracks for The Singer’s Singer (remastered) set in 2012. New technology and software have allowed me to make improvements to the recordings. I still had the untouched dubs made in 2012 – I had multiple versions recorded using different turntables, speeds and even backwards. The only original source for the songs was the Philippine album The Very Best of Matt Monro – Volume 3. The vinyl however was not great quality – even from the sealed copy I used and there was little point in trying a new dub. I did however now have a cassette copy of the album too, although again the tape wasn’t great. It had some bad dropouts and couldn’t be used as a main source.
I auditioned my various dubs and found candidates for each number that I felt would clean up the best. These were gently de-clicked. New restoration algorithms proved much better than ten years ago but a little manual clean-up was also required. The vinyl rumble was quite obtrusive at the start of the recordings, although I could reduce this digitally, I wasn’t very happy with the results and these were replaced with sections from the cassette transfer, EQ matched to the vinyl. Whilst still not perfect, these are a definite upgrade in comparison to previous releases.
As a bonus, we added two live recordings from this era that had not been released before and were songs Matt never recorded in the studio. Recorded direct to cassette at a nightclub in Australia, the engineer had the foresight to record 2 channels, the 1st being a direct feed from the mixing desk and the second a microphone set up to pick up the reaction of the audience. There was a delay between the desk feed and the microphone, which was most likely placed near the desk towards the back of the room. Once this had been corrected, the sound of both channels mixed together was more natural but unbalanced. Using some of the latest audio tools I was able to separate elements of the recording into separate “stems” to allow rebalancing. I worked on the desk and audience tracks separately and ended up with about 8 tracks, which were then remixed to create an approximation of what would originally have been heard by the audience.
1 With These Hands
2 You Light Up My Life
3 Answer Me
4 I Think I’m Getting Over You
5 When A Child Is Born
6 If I Never Sing Another Song
7 May Each Day
8 Morning Has Broken
9 By Her Side
10 Mary’s Boy Child
11 The Last Farewell
12 The Touch Of Your Love
13 Alone Am I
14 The Precious Moments
16 Be My Lady
18 You Bring Out The Best In Me
19 I Don’t Want To Run Your Life
20 If They Could See Me Now (Live) *
21 You Are My Sunshine / You Are The Sunshine Of My Life (Live) *
Tracks 1 – 11 From the album If I Never Sing Another Song
This whole collection brings back to catalogue a large cross-section of Matt’s recordings previously ignored.
If you like to listen to the raw tapes and then compare them to what Richard restored and remixed then go to his website page
The release presents as a digipack which unfolds to reveal some great portraits of dad – some not previously seen – and each disc sits on the cover of the LP featured on each CD. The final flap contains a booklet with extensive notes and more photos. Designed by the ever-brilliant John Sellards and with an incredible previously unpublished front cover photo by Neil Dalrymple, it looks as good as it sounds.
Without Richard there just wouldn’t be the quantity of projects or quality that you have seen come to fruition because of our teamwork and Richard’s extraordinary attention to detail.
The album was released on the 23 June and is available at every great record shop and online store including Amazon.
Richard isn’t the only one to keep his nose to the ground as far as dad is concerned, the whole family does it and last week my cousin Darren who lives in France sent me the advert below which is being shown on French television at the moment. Pretty cool.
Amazingly it appears that dad’s last album ‘Stranger in Paradise: The Lost New York Sessions’ has slipped through the cracks of several fans who were unaware of its release. The first CD is brand new material recorded with just a five-piece band and the second features dad’s more familiar titles remastered of course by the fabulous Richard Moore.
Nearly two years ago I found out that a few albums available to upload were inferior in quality compared to what is available in sound today so after airing my complaints Universal gave the go-ahead. Richard mastered them within weeks, and now at last someone has finally pushed a button which has made them live. The remastered downloads of 8 of his 9 original Capitol albums now appear on all good download and streaming sites.
Don’t forget to visit dad’s very own YouTube channel – https://www.youtube.com/c/MattMonroOfficial
Richard has just added dad’s appearance on the Ivor Novello Awards and there will be an added addition within the next month. Unfortunately, thereafter we will have to pause new uploads temporarily while Avatar and the Estate try to overcome some licensing issues but there is a wealth of content there for you to enjoy and it is all totally free and if you register, the site will send you a reminder every time something new is added. We are trying to hit the100,000 mark so get pressing please.
If you haven’t had the chance yet do check out ‘The Boy From Shoreditch’ the four-part audio documentary Richard and I made to celebrate dad’s special 90th birthday, then it is a must for any MM fan. The programmes were written and narrated by myself and feature an intimate portrait of the man behind the voice, drawing on previously un-broadcast interviews, extremely rare recordings previously thought lost, interviews with his family and friends and messages from some of his more famous fans.
I haven’t taken any cruise bookings so far this year as my main focus had to be the new album but if you are considering a trip on the high seas then don’t forget to grab a copy of my book “The Autonomous Cruiser: The Complete Guide to Cruising For and with Disabled Travellers”. There is 40+ years of tips and information that I have garnered for everyone to benefit from and I hope you find is useful.
I look forward to catching up with you in September and in the meantime, stay safe and keep spreading the MM legacy.