CD of the month

Matt Uncovered

The Alternate Monro
Release Date : 16th September 2013

1.  These Things Happen (Take 3)
2.  Fare The Well My Pretty Maid (Take 1)
3.  Love Walked In (Take 1)
4.  Portrait Of My Love (Take 3)
5.  Such Is My Love (Take 3)
6.  Why Not Now (Take 10)
7.  Easier Said Than Done (Take 2)
8.  Everything Is Nothing Without You (Take 5)
9.  Gonna Build a Mountain (Take 7)
10.  Fools Rush In (Take 2)
11.  My Love And Devotion (Edit Take 8/9)
12.  When Love Come Along (Take 9)
13.  One Day (Take 7)
14.  Without The One I Love (Take 5)
15.  My Friend My Friend (Take 8)
16.  From Russia With Love (Take 5)
17.  Without You (Take 2)
18.  My Kind Of Girl
19.  Born Free
20.  In The Arms Of Love
21.  Georgy Girl
22.  What A Wonderful World (Take 2)
23.  Let There Be Love (Take 2)
24.  Let Me Sing And I’m Happy (Take 1)
25.  Yesterday When I Was Young (Alternate Vocal)
26.  Did it Happen (Early Version - Take 2)
27.  I'm Glad I'm Not Young Anymore (Take 2 – Master Vocal)

Since the beginning of sound recording, artists have recorded multiple takes of each song to enable a preferred choice.  Often performances were rejected for everything from minor imperfections to large clunking mistakes.  However there are some artists who very rarely make a mistake in the studio.  Not having to chase perfection and record the same song until as close to perfect as humanly possible, leaves the producer with greater flexibility and the artist more room to interpret the songs in different ways. Matt Monro fell quite comfortably into this latter category so the archives hold a large number of alternate recordings of many of his songs where his interpretation differs from the originally issued version of a track.

2011 saw the release of a 4CD set entitled ‘Words and Music’, one disc of which contained the Hoagy Carmichael sessions, the other three an abridged version of ‘The Singer’s Singer: The Life and Music of Matt Monro’, the bestselling book I wrote on my father’s life. Very little remained from the tapes recorded at the original Carmichael sessions but one reel included unheard versions of ‘I Get Along Without You Very Well’ and ‘Skylark’ which some of Matt’s fans thought were better than the originally released versions.  This response made us look at what other alternate versions of recordings might be worthy of issue. The answer was, quite a lot!

Matt was extremely professional in the studio, he did make mistakes occasionally, but more often than not if a take broke down it was for a technical reason or a mistake made by a member of the orchestra. He was given the flexibility to interpret the songs in many different ways, particularly during the years spent being produced by George Martin. Sometimes he might even have recorded the same song ten times, but it was rare for him to sing a number the same way twice.

This selection includes alternate versions of many of his hits as well as key album tracks and recordings only issued for the first time in the last few years. You will notice however that some well-known titles are not represented.  Why are alternate takes of ‘Softly as I Leave You’ not included for instance? Whilst every tape used on a session would have been sent to the archive initially, once a master recording was chosen, session tapes were not considered important and were often removed and destroyed. Space in the archives was limited so often whole shelves were cleared of session reels meaning that it was pot luck what survived.  ‘Softly As I Leave You ‘ was recorded direct to stereo tape, but no trace of any takes other than the standard stereo and mono masters reside in the archives, although oddly a reel of its B side ‘Is there Anything I Can Do For You’ from the same session does survive. Multitrack recordings fared far worse, the tapes were one inch wide (as opposed to the standard mono or stereo quarter inch tapes) so took up far more room on the archive shelves and therefore many more of them were discarded. It is for this reason that the majority of Matt’s multitrack tapes of recordings made between 1963 and 1966 no longer exist. Matt of course was not the only artist to have tapes wiped or scrapped. Some artists have no session reels left at all and even the Beatles were not exempt with many tapes from their first two albums and early singles now gone forever. Thankfully this practice ended in the early 1970’s but at the time the clearouts took place nobody knew what value these tapes would have in the future.  I should perhaps point out that EMI were not the only company to throw out-takes away.  Not one single session reel or alternate take survives from Matt’s Decca or Fontana recordings either!

I should explain a little bit about Matt’s artistic method. He absolutely hated using headphones and so his preferred approach was to record live in the same room with the orchestra. His first two sessions were recorded in mono only and from then until early 1963 it was direct to stereo and mono tape simultaneously apart from one stray session for ‘When Love Comes Along’ that was recorded on four-track tape. From 1963 until the end of his time at Parlophone in 1966, Matt recorded mainly live to four track, although there were a few occasions when his vocals were overdubbed to pre-recorded instrumental tracks, with Matt using a speaker in the vocal booth to hear the track back due to his headphone aversion. On a few rare occasions George Martin would edit together different takes to create the best possible performance and although complete takes have been used for the most part for this new project, we have, in a few instances, adopted the same process.

When Matt rejoined EMI/Columbia in 1971 after a five-year stint with Capitol, technology had moved forward and though still recording live with the orchestra; everything was put down on 8 or 16 track tape. Things changed more drastically when in 1972, he began to work with producer John Burgess. Although at the outset Matt worked the same way as before, John’s preferred method was to record the orchestra separately and add the vocals later. He’d often lay down two or three different vocals running on separate tracks to enable him to choose a master vocal at the end of the process.  This would increasingly be the way Matt recorded and by the time he went into the studios to lay down his 1979 album ‘If I Never Sing Another Song’, every song was recorded in this way.

Also included on this album are four 1967 recordings made with the US Air Force big band ‘Airmen of Note’ for their public service show ’Serenade in Blue’, which highlight alternate versions of songs from both the Parlophone and Capitol eras

All but one of the recordings featured on this album are previously unreleased. This 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.


Matt Uncovered: The Rarer Monro

The Singer's SInger (remaster)

The Singles Collection


Matt at The BBC and other CD's

Matt Monro with Love

The Rare Monro

The Heart of the Man

A Touch of Class

The Collection

Tesco Exclusive

The Very Best Of

The Singers, Singer

His Finest