Matt Monro (1930-1985) made one of his first major splashes under the pseudonym of “Fred Flange,” adding the requisite touch of Sinatra to Peter Sellers’ 1959 comedy LP Songs for Swingin’ Sellers. Good as he was at being Sinatra, however, he was even better at being Matt Monro. Producer George Martin picked up on this, and the rest is history. Monro began his tenure at EMI signed (like Sellers) to Parlophone, later became an artist for EMI’s famous U.S. Capitol label, and still later saw releases on EMI’s Columbia label and EMI proper. But in 2012, the assets of the troubled EMI were broken up, with Capitol Records going to UMe (Universal Music Enterprises) and Parlophone to WMG (Warner Music Group). Numerous questions arose, and here at Second Disc HQ, we wondered: what would become of the gold-standard Matt Monro catalogue program shepherded by Monro’s daughter Michele Monro and audio engineer Richard Moore through projects including The Singer’s Singer, The Man Behind the Voice, Words and Music, and the Rare Monro series? At last, we have an answer, and it brings Matt Monro full circle to Parlophone.
On September 16, WMG’s Parlophone label will unveil Alternate Monro, a 27-track anthology almost entirely consisting of unreleased performances from Matt’s Parlophone and EMI U.K. years. On his website, Moore chronicles the fascinating backstory behind the compilation, revealing that “all plans the Monro Estate had [for future releases] have had to be scrapped. Michele Monro and I put our heads together and discussed various releases that we could put together from the archives of the old EMI U.K. [now WMG’s Parlophone Label Group].” The result is Alternate Monro, another treasure trove of rare and never-before-released material from the legendary vocalist. The concept is a simple yet potent one: to present alternate takes and versions of familiar songs, all remastered to the highest standard by Moore and many completely remixed, as well, for optimum sound. Even the Capitol years (which yielded the signature song “Born Free”) are represented thanks to four songs recorded for the U.S. Air Force’s Public Service program Serenade in Blue. All tracks, other than the U.S.A.F. tracks which were transferred from the U.S.A.F.’s original vinyl copies, were transferred from original session or mixdown tapes for this project.
What songs can you expect to hear on Alternate Monro? Just hit the jump for many more details!
Alternate Monro includes never-before-released versions of hits and album tracks, as well as songs that first appeared on The Rare Monro and Matt Uncovered: The Rarer Monro. (Both of these essential titles are soon to disappear as a result of the EMI upheaval, so those interested in owning these should snap them up now.) Every one of its 27 tracks is making its first appearance with the exception of “One Day,” which was erroneously released on the long-deleted LP More Heartbreakers in 1984. You’ll hear Take 3 of “Portrait of My Love,” a U.K. No. 3 hit for Monro in 1960, Take 5 of the James Bond theme “From Russia with Love,” and Take 2 of Matt’s rendition of “What a Wonderful World.” From the U.S.A.F. vaults, Moore and Monro have unearthed recordings of Leslie Bricusse’s “My Kind of Girl” –a U.K. Top 5/U.S. Top 20 hit in its original Parlophone single version – and three movie themes: John Barry and Don Black’s timeless “Born Free” as introduced by Matt in the movie of the same name, Henry Mancini, Jay Livingston and Ray Evans’ “In the Arms of Love,” and Jim Dale and Tom Springfield’s “Georgy Girl.” Matt is in a reflective mood on Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe’s Gigi tune “I’m Glad I’m Not Young Anymore” and Charles Aznavour and Herbert Kretzmer’s “Yesterday When I Was Young,” both of which hailed from the same session. Richard Moore shares the story of how he uncovered these tracks – and in certain cases reconstructed them – here at his website.
According to MattMonro.com, “[Alternate Monro] now gives you the chance of stepping into George Martin’s shoes and choosing which version of each song you prefer - the master or the alternate.” If you, too, are ready to hear some choice selections from the incomparable vocalist Matt Monro as you’ve never heard them before, you can order Alternate Monro at the Amazon U.K. below. An Amazon U.S. link is not yet active. It’s in stores in the U.K. on September 16 from Parlophone.
Matt Monro, Alternate Monro (Parlophone, 2013)
- These Things Happen (Take 3) – From mono session reel
- Fare The Well My Pretty Maid (Take 1) – From mono session reel
- Love Walked In (Take 1) – From stereo session reel
- Portrait Of My Love (Take 3) – From stereo session reel
- Such Is My Love (Take 3) – From stereo session reel
- Why Not Now (Take 11) – From stereo session reel
- Easier Said Than Done (Take 2) – From stereo session reel
- Everything Is Nothing Without You (Take 5) – From stereo session reel
- Gonna Build a Mountain (Take 7) – From stereo session reel and master
- Fools Rush In (Take 2) – From stereo session reel
- My Love And Devotion (Edit Takes 8/9) – From stereo session reel
- When Love Come Along (Take 9) – From stereo mix down from 4 track by Peter Mew 2009
- One Day (Take 7) – From original 1963 mix down reel. Mixed by Stuart Eltham 1963
- Without The One I Love (Take 5) – From 4 track – Mixed Richard Moore 2013
- My Friend My Friend (Take 8) – From 4 track – Mixed Richard Moore 2013
- From Russia With Love (Take 5) – From 4 track – Mixed Richard Moore 2013
- Without You (Take 2) – From 4 track – Mixed Richard Moore 2013
- My Kind Of Girl – From stereo vinyl transfer
- Born Free – From stereo vinyl transfer
- In The Arms Of Love – From stereo vinyl transfer
- Georgy Girl – From stereo vinyl transfer
- What A Wonderful World (Take 2) – From 16 track – Mixed Richard Moore 2013
- Let There Be Love (Take 2) – From 16 track – Mixed Richard Moore 2013
- Let Me Sing & I’m Happy (Take 1) – From 16 track – Mixed Richard Moore 2013
- Yesterday When I Was Young (Alternate Vocal) – From 16 track – Mixed Richard Moore 2013
- Did it Happen (Early Version - Take 2) – From 16 track – Mixed Richard Moore 2013
- I'm Glad I'm Not Young Anymore (Take 2 – Master Vocal) – From 16 track – Mixed Richard Moore 2013
Phil Houldershaw says
The break up of EMI's assets has proved disastrous for Michelle Monro's superb projects over recent years, with so many titles being deleted. And gone are her future projects. I will buy this cd because, let's face it, Monro singing the telephone book would be worth hearing. but I can't help feeling a bit let down that this project feels a bit desperate in terms of bringing in the money. Especially when there are complete Monro albums that have yet to be issued on CD. Such is the politics of the music business!
Richard Moore says
Hi Phil, I think when you hear it you will find it's not at all desperate, Matt never performed a song the same way twice. There are actually only a handful of recordings by Matt that haven't yet appeared on CD. Hopefully we will be able to rectify that in the future!
Vance Adair says
Just auditioned this CD for the first time and I have to say that Richard Moore has provided us with an extremely important addition to Matt's catalogue. Almost all the tracks sound much better than they did previously and some of Matt's readings are so different (and to my ears) in many cases preferable to the previously released recordings. The clarity of the vocals on some of the tracks are a revelation. Matt's diction was always splendid, but some recordings were so wet with reverb on some of the late 70s recordings that you would never have known it. Well, this has now been corrected by this disc. Excellent all round.As far as the EMI break up is concerned: yes, it's dreadful in terms of future projects. My disappointment, however, is assuaged by the fact that Michele and Richard have been so industrious in the last 10 years providing us with so many excellent additions to Matt's CD catalogue. For that I am truly grateful.
Phil Houldershaw says
Having now had a chance to hear this music I have to say it has been a hugely enjoyable experience. It is like hearing a 'new' Monro album. Which is always good! Thanks to Michelle and Richard Moore for this superb collection.