NEWS

May 2015

Firstly let me apologise to everyone for not being here for several months but thankfully we had the wonderful Richard Moore step in to bring you all the news. I left England on 4 January on P&O’s Adonia for a three-month cruise. Although in principle twelve weeks at sea visiting the Caribbean, the Amazon and South America sounds like a dream, the reality was that mentally I was not up for the task. The last half of 2014 was fraught with problems stemming from my move to Shropshire and although I finally got a working kitchen by Christmas Eve the property was by no sense of the word finished.

I’d arranged with my builder that he finish the work in my absence but sadly the best-laid plans don’t always come off. Of course the weather didn’t help as the outside plastering and rendering couldn’t be attempted in temperatures below three degrees. The were several outstanding issues with other contractors like the replacement of my new front door which was faulty, and payment from Loosemores whose skip inadvertently hit my front garden wall on 22 December and severed it in two places. These companies like most had closed for the Christmas holidays and weren’t due back until5 January, the day after I left the country. I had no option but to leave the builder with the job of sorting it out, I was due to have the wall extended but work had to stop as the wall couldn’t be brought down until Loosemores had agreed reimbursement.

Forget what the builders hadn’t done.  I cam home to find some of the doors have dropped, the shower wouldn’t turn off, the heating wasn’t working and it is under floor!!!!!! The plastered garden walls have blown, two of my lounge glass tiles have cracks and cannot be replaced because they are in the middle of a wall and the teakwood root bench I bought at Christmas had dried out completely so I bought teak oil at the weekend and just as I was finishing the task, I spilt the rest of the can over my new cobblestone front door path.

The oak tree finally down in December but the Council haven’t been back to fix the wall. Several phone calls later I was sent an insurance claim form asking for sketches, dimensions and photographs. I’m sure they make these things so difficult in the hope you won’t bother pursuing the remedial work. I’ve finally submitted the forms and a letter was waiting on my return saying that the matter had been passed on to another company and they need twelve weeks to consider the matter!!

I was loathe to leave England as the timing could not have been worse and my apprehension was heightened when I found Adonia to be totally unsuitable for the trip I’d had in mind. The facilities would have been okay for a two-week jaunt but being stuck on such a small vessel for three months was a mistake compounded by the fact the buffet did not open on a nightly basis. This small detail was missing from my brochure and dreams of eating a leisurely meal on deck under the balmy Caribbean warmth were dispelled very quickly. The situation was made worse when I found that there was no alternative to ‘Black Tie’ nights so if you didn’t want to dress for dinner your only option was room service

.

Because of the age group, no effort was made to provide a daytime activity programme nor were the tours on offer exciting. The ship provided a sedentary programme for guests who were quite happy to lie in the sun all day and do nothing. The deck emptied by 6.25pm every night and the area resembled an abandoned ship. I did try to transfer to a bigger ship en-route but it was impossible. Although we were docked next to Arcadia in St Martin it was going on to India and China and I didn’t have the right visa to make that journey.
Adonia is in dire need of a refit and the technological aspects were missing in every quarter. Getting online was a totally frustrating experience as well as an expensive one. Most of the time it told me that Max was not online when he was and it transpired that the signal was just too weak to make a connection. When one did manage to grab a signal it took up to seven minutes to download an email. I later found out that several emails I sent actually were not delivered and those didn’t have any attachments so any chance of sending updates for the website were quickly abandoned and as the days went on I felt very isolated from the ‘real’ world.

The Atlantic crossing wasn’t too bad but the ship is small and so you can feel every lump and bump but I focused on the warm weather I was heading to. You can imagine my shock when I was met at our first stop in Lisbon by temperatures of three degrees. I have been there so many times before and never experienced weather like it. It was bitingly cold and every breath I took seemed to burn the inside of my nose. It took a further six days until we arrived in the Caribbean and thankfully the weather was exactly what one hopes for. Because there was so little to do on the ship, the fact that most days saw us in port, saved my sanity and for the next two months my body thawed out and I was able to relax somewhat The cancellation of the Orinoco was a huge disappointment and the trip to the Amazon a waste. We sailed for 3 ½ days just to dock at Santarem where two tours were on offer before sailing back 3 ½ days. Although the Amazon conjures up the most wonderful exotic images, you won’t find much on offer in Santarem. Even the guidebook advises you join a ‘tour’ as there is very little else to do. The river, about 300 miles wide, offers up very little except for trees. We were too far away from the banks to see any wildlife nor did any villages dot the landscape. The nail in the coffin was P&O’s inability to secure a stop at Devil’s Island, scene of the best-selling Papillion. A pilot joined us allowing the ship to sail around the island but unless you had very powerful binoculars there was little to see. I was lucky enough to get off there last year and even a three-hour stop would have allowed a visit to the prison and walks along the monkey lined paths. It was definitely a lost opportunity.

Richard and I have still not heard from Warner about the release of the new album ‘The Definitive Matt Monro’, which was due out on Mother’s Day last year. I thought Warner’s would hold it back for the anniversary but that has proved not to be the case. I think it is ludicrous not to have a new album out for the anniversary year and if Warner has a finished product that they refuse to bring out that doesn’t bode well for the future of Catalogue.

Before I went away Richard and I worked hard on producing the new CD ‘Operation Santa’ in time for dad’s 30th anniversary.


Available from Amazon

or direct from Mint Audio

We also worked with Odeon Entertainment to bring out a new DVD on dad’s television performances from “Around the World’. The project was almost nine months in the making and the frustration of dealing with foreign television archivists was enough for one to give up the will to live. In some instances we were told the footage didn’t exist even though we proved it did. In some instances we were sent ‘viewing’ copies and months on when we actually went to buy the footage they couldn’t find it or we were sent the wrong version. I wrote the notes before I left based on the running order Richard and I had put together but in my absence mistakes were made and so the notes are slightly wrong which to me is totally unacceptable. On the other hand the fact that we were able to bring another DVD to the table was something we could not have foreseen five years ago so my excitement outweighed the negatives. In the early years dad’s appearance on certain shows also saw him perform in skits and finding Red Skelton’s “Let’s face the Music and Dance’ was a joy. Every time I watch the footage I fall about laughing, it is just too fabulous.

 

 

Amazon Reviews:

Definitely a "must have" DVD for fans of Matt Monro, or indeed fans of anyone who loves quality! Some of the favourites are here of course, including "Walk Away", "My Kind Of Girl" and We're Gonna Change The World", but there are so many other gems here included too from the 1960's right through until 1984.
"When You Wish Upon A Star", "My Way" and You've Made Me So Very Happy" are amongst them plus many more, but a personal favourite for me is Matt's final single "You Bring Out The Best In Me", performed here on the Russell Harty Show in 1984. His voice was on top form throughout his career and this DVD just proves what a terrific voice he had.
A truly wonderful DVD that will bring back happy memories of Britain's finest singer.

****
The formidable pairing of Michele Monro and Richard Moore have pulled off yet another coup. As the sleeve notes document, they have doggedly pursued archive material of Matt all over the world and this is the result of their persistence and their equally invincible desire to bring this magnificent singer to the attention of a new audience.

The insolence of Russell Harty notwithstanding, there is not a duff note to be found anywhere on this DVD. In fact, Matt's performances on some songs even exceeds the already superlative renditions he gave in the studio. His performance of 'We're Gonna Change the World' is delivered with such brio that I was amazed and full of praise for the little guy that was going to rearrange my world. Then there's 'When You Wish Upon A Star.' The Colin Keys arrangement was already lovely, but Matt brings an epic splendor to the song not found on record and he ably showcases his deceptively capacious range.

Every performance bears the imprimatur of Monro's approach to a song: singing that is elegant, unaffected and infused with warmth. The DVD also demonstrates his easy charm with co-hosts and a relaxed stagecraft that belies the hard work that Monro put into making everything look so easy. This is a perfect way to commemorate the 30th anniversary of Monro's untimely death. It should also remind anyone who cares a fig about the art of popular singing why this prodigiously talented performer remains so adored by discerning music lovers and musicians all over the world.

****
Watching the live performances here reminds you just how great a performer Matt Monro was in fact his version of We’re Gonna Change The World is so good it was almost like listening to the record.

What also impressed me was the sound and vision on almost every song it is perfect and the musicians playing for Matt also deserve a special mention as they are fantastic.

Matt was such a relaxed performer, watch him with Russell Harty and Des O'Connor and see who comes off best.

This is indeed a very worthy addition to anyone's collection of Matt Monro material or Matt Mono as he is called in the final sleeve notes.

****
This superb DVD is sheer enjoyment to watch. The quality is fantastic and for anyone who appreciates listening to Matt Monro then this DVD will definitely not disappoint. It shows Matt at lots of stages in his career from the earlier days to later performances.

This was the ideal time to bring out this DVD, as this month is the thirtieth anniversary since Matt passed away and also the CD "Live in Hong Kong" which was brought out earlier this month is fantastic to listen to.

We can only add you will not be sorry if you do decide to buy this wonderful DVD.

****

Was wonderful....has you wanting to see more. Pity that the copyright owners of the TV shows these clips are culled from are so greedy that it becomes prohibitive to re-release more. Here's hoping that more treasures of Matt's performances, be it audio, and or visual are out there to be found...and soon :-) Bravo to all those involved in letting us enjoy and re-live the talents of this wonderfully talented entertainer. Matt is sorely missed. Tom, Melbourne Australia
****

This a wonderful new DVD of the great Matt Monro featuring some very rare live performances from TV through the years - I can strongly advise anyone out there to buy this while stocks still last because it is great! Lasting about 1 hr in length, you will feel you have been watching it for just half that because the time just fly's by and the variety of song is very interesting: Particular stand out's for me were the duet with a ridiculously young Des O’Connor ( Matt even manages to make him sound good LOL), and Somewhere Over The Rainbow as well as a very old black and white appearance from around 1966 where Monro does a splendid live version of I Have Dreamed....wonderful stuff I can't praise this enough - please more...more...more! Do yourself a favour buy it now!

I wasn’t the only one doing something special in the anniversary month. Matt Jnr was booked up for what has become a regular visit to the Philippines. Valentine’s Day is a big celebration for the Filipinos and Royale Chimes Concerts & Events took advantage of delivering a fabulous line up for the occasion.

Aside from roses and chocolates, Valentine’s Day wouldn’t be complete without a touch of romantic music.  Only You: An Evening of Romantic Music, a special 4-in-1 Valentine’s Day concert held at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC) Plenary Hall, provided this third requirement.  

This event features The Fabulous Sounds Of …. The Platters, English crooner Matt Monro Jr., Asian singing sensation Christian Bautista plus the Kilyawan Consortium of Voices Children’s Choir.
Produced by Royale Chimes Concerts & Events Inc., Only You drew a sizable audience that night featuring a mix of the old, not so old (where me and my wife Grace belong) and the young.  

The concert promptly started at 8:30 PM with the Kilyawan Consortium of Voices Children’s Choir, an umbrella organization of choirs formed under the leadership of Mr. Mark Anthony A. Carpio.  They sang a number of Beatles’ songs plus John Lennon’s "Imagine" and George Harrison’s "Here Comes the Sun."

Soon after, Christian Bautista, one of the most acclaimed Filipino balladeers of his generation (with a following in Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand) entered the stage with his version of the Grammy Award winning, Joe Cocker song "Up Where We Belong" followed by "Colour Everywhere." 

What followed next was a medley of his version of OPM songs ("Nakapagtataka" of APO Hiking Society, "The Way We Were" of Rico Puno, "You" of Basil Valdez, "Don’t Know What to Say" of Ric Segreto, "Be My Lady" of Martin Nievera, "Reachin’ Out" of Gary Valenciano, "Nandito Ako" of Ogie Alcasid and "So It’s You" by Raymond Lauchengco).

The GMA-7 balladeer also offered another medley of Jose Mari Chan hits ("Beautiful Girl," "Tell Me Your Name" and "Deep in My Heart"). He capped his performance with the immensely popular "The Way You Look at Me," the song that virtually catapulted him to stardom, and "Hands To Heaven." Before exiting the stage, he did a duet with Matt Monro Jr. as they performed "Around The World."
Matt then worked the crowd, kissing ladies (one even took a “selfie” with him) as he sang "Save the Last Dance For Me." He followed this up with a medley of songs including "I Write The Songs" (a Barry Manilow hit), the much requested "Portrait of My Love" and "Walk Away."

After singing "For Once in My Life" (a Stevie Wonder hit) and the Academy Award winning song "Born Free" (his dad Matt Sr.’s signature song), Matt brought in the Kilyawan Consortium of Voices Children’s Choir as he emotionally sang "Softly As I Leave You" (changing into a Barong Tagalog during an intermission). 

Matt then raised the tempo more than a notch with the Frank Sinatra hits New York, New York and the much requested My Way (the song that frequently results in fights and sometime deaths in karaoke bars). Matt saved the best for last, doing a video duet with his late father, made possible by the magic of digital technology, as they performed "We're Gonna Change the World."

The Fabulous Sounds Of …. The Platters fits the bill.  Composed of lead singer Donne Ray Radford and back-up singers Bernardo Cassar, Reginald Carter, John Cheatdom and Savanna McClendon (the lone female in the group), the group regaled the crowd with nostalgic songs of the 1950s and 1960s.

Donne, a performer extraordinaire and tenor with a 5-octave range, thrilled the audience with The Great Pretender, Twilight Time, Smoke Gets In Your Eyes, Stand By Me, Heaven On Earth, Harbor Lights, Red Sails in the Sunset, (You've Got) The Magic Touch, Enchanted, My Prayer and last, but not the least, the much requested Only You (and You Alone), which reached No. 5 in the U.K. charts in 1956.

Of course, what is a concert without all the major artists performing together on stage.   The Fabulous Sounds Of …. The Platters, Matt Monro, Jr. and Christian Bautista surprised the crowd as they ended the two-and-a-half hour long concert with their rendition of "My Girl" and "All Night Long," hits of The Temptations and Lionel Richie, respectively.

The Only You Valentine show, a musical feast for all ages, proved that love, indeed, is an emotion that knows no space, time or age. It truly satisfied the concert-going crowd’s penchant for nostalgia and longing for the good old days when songs had lyrics that you could understand and recall long after the mania over the ditties has gone over to memory’s mist.

Review written by: Benjamin Layug on 22 February 2015

Although Matt’s visit to the Philippines was fleeting he was asked to make a special guest appearance on the television programme ‘The Voice’ with the show’s singing coach and four of the finalists. As one person wrote, what a shame the contestants didn’t learn the words while another wondered the point was of rehearsals!!

 

I actually think I brought the weather back with me. It wasn’t too bad at all on the 4th April and the weather has got better and better, mind you not quite the same as the Caribbean. I was lucky in that one of the officers helped me off the ship by carrying a few of my pieces of beach finds and once I’d claimed all 15 pieces of luggage I clenched my bum walking past customs carrying 7 pieces of hand luggage but it is all here save the 4 boxes that were delivered last week because I couldn’t fit them in the car!!

The day was slightly fraught especially as I couldn’t open the electric gates and both neighbours were out but of course I was trying to open the gates with the garage opener. As you do. Then I couldn’t get in the house as I’d forgotten the burglar alarm code. Then I got in and the alarm wasn’t on because hiding round the corner was my son. He said he thought I was going to have a heart attack. My brain just registered someone was in the house and apparently I dropped everything and just screamed. It took me a few seconds to register it was him as he had told me he was away in Blackpool. All part of the surprise so after a Valium I was made up.

Rushed to the supermarket, as shops don’t open on Easter Sunday and once home with the groceries we couldn’t work out how to put the hob on. I really have to familiarise myself with where things are, after all I was only here 12 days before I went away.

Max was here again last week as after 10 months my stuff was delivered by the removal company. I just looked on in horror as box after box came out of the articulated lorry, which was three quarters full!! Apart from the fact that I have lost a whole level of the house the bungalow is open plan because of the wheelchair so I lost six walls. Most people have something against a wall like a wardrobe, a sideboard or book shelves etc so I have lost all that potential storage. I have no idea what I’m going to do to get rid of it but I’ll probably visit several giant car boots and serve up a yard sale. I had to hire a storage container and have it put in the front garden next to the garage so at the moment all the furniture has gone into the garage and all the boxes in the containers. At least the container is only costing £12.00 a week, mind you it costs £150.00 for the delivery and the same again when it is picked up but still it is much cheaper than it being held at the storage company and it will probably be here at least six months if not more. That is the trouble with working at sea, you’re never home long enough to get your teeth into anything and then it’s time to leave again.

Before I left the country I made a deal with Sky Art to licence dad’s Australian concert for the next year and I know it is already in rotation. ‘An Evening With Matt Monro’ was remastered using HD technology by Jonathan Wood at the BBC a few years back whereas the original film was scanned in high resolution, cleaned and made to look as close to the original video quality when broadcast using a process called VidFire. Despite the fact that the original broadcast was in standard definition the remastered version looks even better on the Sky Arts HD channel

 

While I was away several radio programmes were aired that I pre-recorded before leaving. First off the bat with an idea to focus on the Matt Monro years with contributions from both Matt Jnr and myself was Tom Steven’s Matt Monro special, which was due to be aired on 8th February, but it was put out much later than planned. Programme manager Ed Wellman helped Tom complete the editing and it finally went out on Easter Monday but is being repeated on Monday 4 May.   Those in Lincolnshire can hear the show on 107.3 FM but it is also available online at http://www.sirenonline.co.uk.

Mike McLean of Vinyl Radio aired his special on Sunday 8 February and I recorded a special interview with Danny Lawrence for the station Gateway 97.8 which is based in the heart of Basildon’s Eastgate. Gateway 97.8 reflects the interests, tastes, backgrounds, cares and concerns of the local communities but above all Gateway 97.8 represents the myriad voices, tastes and expectations of the listener in this wonderfully vibrant part of South and South West Essex. Keep an eye out for news on the date the programme will air.


Barbara Windsor’s radio special ‘East End Men’ celebrates the life and career of the biggest names in popular entertainment from the worlds of music, comedy and movies. The four part series produced by Graham Pass featured Matt Monro, Antony Newley, Marty Feldman and Alfred Hitchcock. These four icons all have one big thing in common, like Barbara they were all born in London's east end. They grew up as east end boys and as east end men they went on to conquer the world!

On Tuesday 14 April, Barbara celebrated 'the man with the golden voice', 'the singers singer' and one of the greatest musical exports this country has ever known, Matt Monro.

With new interviews from Michele Monro (Matt's daughter & biographer), Johnny Mathis, Monica Mancini, Don Black, Buddy Greco, Helen Shapiro, Rosemary Squires and Richard Moore the how is packed out with guests and also includes interviews from the archive of Mickie Monro, Billy May, Dave Allen and David Jacobs.

This show was originally broadcast last year and will definitely make the circuit again so keep your eyes peeled. In the meantime it will be available on BBC iPlayer until May 13th

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b03vcpcm

As such this anniversary year is important and towards the end of last year Matt Jnr and I discussed the possibility of doing a theater tour across England starting in October. Because of my mobility issues and the fact that with Multiple Sclerosis, one has no idea of how one will feel on a daily basis I decided, after careful consideration, that I wouldn’t be able to commit to such a grueling schedule that far in advance. The good news is that Matt is taking the show on the road and I do hope that it comes to a theatre near you. If your ‘local’ isn’t on the list then ring the theatre and ask why they are not bringing it in. If they know there is an interest they might very well add it to their schedule.

Click on the pictures to view the full size the flyer as PDFs

Playing catch up to three months of mail and 1726 emails (and that is without the junk) has been a nightmare and that doesn’t include Facebook and dad’s website updates. Only a few hundred more emails left to answer but with more coming in every day it is difficult especially as I am juggling tradesmen who are here every day trying to finish the house. My rockery rocks arrive tomorrow, they are coming from a quarry in Wales and at long last I will have curtains next Friday.

Because of all the problems I’ve had with the property and the amount of remedial work I had to have done to make it legal, Monday is the big day when the building inspector comes to sign off on the property. Fingers crossed because without that small bit of paper I cannot sell it as any potential buyer would not be granted a mortgage. It has been a long hard slog the last 10 months and although I want to see the back of it I am also happy to ‘run away to sea’ and escape reality every now and then.

My cruise calendar is as busy as ever and for anyone interested these are the dates I have booked for 2015/2016

30 May – 14 June – Celebrity Eclipse
14 June – 27 June – Celebrity Eclipse
19 July – 2 August – Celebrity Constellation
30 August – 13 September – Celebrity Eclipse
13 September – 27 September – Celebrity Eclipse
10 October– 21 October – Celebrity Eclipse
21 October – 1 November – Celebrity Eclipse
5 January – 16 February – Cruise & maritime Magellan

Don’t forget to check out our Spotlight feature this month, I know so many of you enjoy them. This time round we look in on Ray Charles, the American singer, songwriter, musician and composer, who is sometimes referred to as "The Genius".

Check out the ‘Rough Guide to mattmonro.com’, which is available towards the bottom of the Homepage. If you don’t know how to access certain areas of the site or in fact are unaware of new areas, this guide will explain how easy this website is to get around, once you know how.

There is also another information box “How to Use the Forum’. I know a lot of people have been tempted to join in on some of our conversations but are slightly nervous of doing so. For that reason I have printed step-by-step instructions of how to access it. It really does only take a few minutes.

Whatever the coming year holds, suffice to say that I shall be plugging Matt Monro’s music at every opportunity.  That is the wonderful thing about working the ships, it gives me a brand new audience each time and if then, a small percentage go home a fan, then it is worth all the blood, sweat and tears, not to mention the Bay of Biscay!!!!

Until next month
Warmest to you and yours
Michele

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