NEWS

August 2020

What a month its been. In July I told you we had slipped to No 25 in the chart position but a week later we had fallen a further ten places but each week we’ve clawed a few back and after 19 weeks we are still sitting at No 24 so I am thrilled. I’m just hoping we are able to maintain our place in the Top 30 by next Friday as that is the five-month mark.

I can’t thank people enough for all the support for the new album, and for those that don’t know what I’m talking about, the album is ‘Stranger in Paradise: The Lost New York Sessions’, a fabulous two CD set.

I know there will be those that are fed up reading about the new disc set but it has been six years since our last record company release and I think it is something worth boasting about. I’ve been doing several radio interviews each week and together with the full page spread in ‘Yours’ magazine last month, I’m hoping they spur on a few more sales. What Richard and I are hoping for is that we continue to be allowed to bring you new releases, so fingers crossed.

 

This new album’s release was a great way to start off the celebrations for dad’s 90th anniversary year and the last few months has seen Richard and I working on something very special that will come out nearer to dad’s birthday. We are both very excited about the project but are not allowed to say any more at this point but it won’t be long before we can share the exciting news.

I’m sure the loyal readers will be sick to death of reading the story behind the album but for all our new members that don’t know the history behind the new album, here goes;

Dad went into the studio in New York to record an album called Invitation to Broadway. Instead of an orchestra or ready-made arrangements accompanying dad, they chose the songs and did all the arrangements as they went along. The band was made up of just five musicians, piano. Bass, drums and two guitars, electric and acoustic. The majority of the recordings made over the week were from relatively new musicals, many running in Broadway theatres at the time.

However, unbeknown to dad, producer Dave Cavanaugh decided that he preferred him with a bigger sound. He took the tapes back to Hollywood and engaged Sid Feller and Billy May to write brass and string scores for 14 of the songs.

When dad heard the results, he was not impressed and felt that the tracks had been butchered. He made his feelings clear to producer Cavanaugh and the whole project was shelved. This new album sees the first release of all the songs from the sessions in their original un-dubbed form, just dad and some great musicians having a blast in the studio.
 
This album is a journey, from the opening bars of the unmistakable “Stranger in Paradise” to the haunting melody of Jerry Brock’s “Sunrise, Sunset”. The journey is delicious in its voyage of discovery.  Dad has that genius of making each song his own.
 
There are so many highlights in evidence here, brimming with distinguished arrangements and superb production values that conjure up exquisite memories of a polished performer, one with feathery velvet tones and unsurpassed excellence.  Here is superb talent with no use of vocal gimmicks or corny catchphrases.  Dad relies only on his solid music ability and brings to life every song in this repertoire with the ease of a born professional.  Of course, I am biased.


Stranger in Paradise: The Lost New York Sessions:

Impossible Dream
Stranger In Paradise
Put On A Happy Face
Hello Dolly
The Apple Tree
If She Walked Into My Life
The Sweetest Sounds
Sunrise Sunset
Walking Happy
I Only Miss Her When I Think Of Her
Come Back To Me
Look For Small Pleasures
The Lady Smiles
Lover's Caravan
Beautiful Beautiful World
What Makes It Happen
The Apple Tree (Alternate Vocal)
The Lady Smiles (Take 5)
Lover's Caravan (Take 2)
What Makes It Happen (Take 5)

The Greatest Hits:

Portrait Of My Love
My Kind Of Girl
Gonna Build A Mountain
Softly As I Leave You
From Russia With Love
Walk Away
Yesterday
Born Free
This Is The Life
On A Clear Day (You Can See Forever)
Don’t Answer Me
Honey On The Vine
Wednesdays Child
I Will Wait For You
Georgy Girl
Spanish Eyes
When I Look In Your Eyes
Pretty Polly
Maria
The Music Played
All Of A Sudden
On Days Like These
Two People
Everybody’s Talkin’
We’re Gonna Change The World
And You Smiled
If I Never Sing Another Song

None of this would have seen the light of day without my partner in crime and sound engineer extraordinaire Richard Moore working his magic. Not only is he incredibly gifted but he happens to be a really nice guy as well. Always passionate about his craft he has written some technical notes in much more detail than in the included album booklet and it makes for a fascinating read.

http://mint-audio-restoration.co.uk/stranger/

In fact, Richard recently came across a lost BBC interview on the original tape reel and grabbed it for me. Even 35 years on we both continue to find rare snippets which is always exciting. He also found, purely by chance, another version of dad’s jingle Zal, fabulous.

 

Did a quick interview with my friend Alan Jarvie which went out several times in July but is still available on the 242 Radio website.

I’ve done a number of radio interviews to promote the album, one of which was with Mike Brown from CHBN Radio which went out on Friday 26 June at 3.00pm. Mike has very kindly sent a link for anyone that missed it.

The pandemic has brought every business to a standstill and even though the dust was shaken off over the last few weeks, there are some that will never recover, especially the entertainment industry. The cruise industry is suffering badly and I lost all my work for the year with no news about its return. AIDA Cruises had hoped to set sail in August, but 9/10 new crew members who flew into Rostock, Germany, where the ships are based, the last week of July, tested Covid-19 positive on arrival and had to be put straight into isolation. I don’t see the cruise industry starting back in England this year. It’s not that they aren’t ready, it’s a matter of what ports would let tourists in without quarantine. TUI’s Mein Schiff 2 set sail in the last days of July from Hamburg for its first “Blue Cruise”. The three-night cruise is not visiting any ports but sailing near Norway for scenic cruising. Sadly, that rather defeats what cruising is all about, that and the fact it has had to cut guest capacity to less than 50%. TUI are hoping to add Mein Schiff 1 to the cruising schedule in August.

With England eager to lift restrictions and start opening air bridges it was all too apparent that the virus would rear its head again with nothing in place to slow its spread. It comes as no surprise to me that there are new outbreaks in Spain, France, Germany and Belgium to name a few.

What I don’t understand is why other people can’t see that we’re a very long way from Covid-19 being finished and England’s Chief medical officer Chris Witty, issued a statement saying that “eradication is technically impossible for this disease”. People seem to think that because certain restrictions have eased that there is nothing to fear anymore.

Tesco has got rid of having to queue to access their stores and ditched its one-way aisle system. Several friends of mine from different parts of England all confirmed that the hand sanitisers were missing altogether or empty. I just don’t understand the logic especially as these new easements were put in place weeks before the compulsive need to wear masks in stores. Shoppers were milling in all directions, ignoring the social distancing rules and the lack of clear signage makes it dangerous to shop.

Every time the government announce a warning to stay away from beaches, protests or football grounds, it seems to purely act as a reminder to people to do exactly the opposite. We all know people who assume “it’s not going to happen to them” but what they forget is that they can be a carrier and pass it onto someone who can’t fight the virus. Even the scientists don’t know the reason some people get it mildly and some end up on ventilators, nor do they know whether the virus can be caught twice. The NHS can do without cases that have been caused by reckless thinking.

Entertainment industry giants Cirque du Soleil had to close all its shows and has had zero revenue coming in forcing them to get rid of 95% of its staff in a bid to avoid bankruptcy. Theatres across England are in dire need of Government help to see them through the lockdown and although certain companies have been creative and come up with ways to keep going, theatre is not the sort of outing where you can social distance. They work to a very narrow margin as it is so it would be impossible to take a third of the seating away, that and the fact that the production would lose all the buzz and reaction of the theatre-goers.

My neighbour remarked that because I have always been a workaholic and a loner, going into my office at 7.30am every morning till gone midnight, nothing much has changed for me but there is a difference with not wanting to go out to being told you can’t. Because of the M.S, my immune system is compromised so I cannot risk going out, nor do I want to risk dying just to go pick up a packet of crisps.

Lockdown has made people take a step back and realise what is important in their lives. It has given human beings the time to reconnect with each other. Books and music have become even more important and has given people a new appreciation for the simple ways of experiencing calm and joy. For hundreds of years music has been used to treat illness and restore harmony between the body and mind. Listening to music on headphones reduces stress and anxiety and can help reduce both the sensation and distress of both chronic pain and depression especially in the elderly. Music can trigger a variety of chemical reactions in your brain that contribute to relaxation. From reducing stress hormones to stimulating feelings of happiness, music can almost instantly put you in a good mood. It also has an effect on our immune system by releasing wellbeing-boosting hormones and endorphins leading to fewer headaches, migraines or seizures. For many, the ability to learn something new is incredibly hard, but we can all remember the lyrics of a song from ten years ago which proves music is a big part of us and influences us in so many marked ways.

Freedom makes people realise just how precious it is and we really don’t want to risk another lockdown. Think twice before doing something that could ultimately put someone else’s life at risk. Imagine if someone equally selfish passed it onto to one of your family members.

So, onto other news………………

Unfortunately, still no news on dad’s Blue Plaque. London’s famous blue plaques link the people of the past with the buildings of the present. Now run by English Heritage, the London blue plaques scheme was started in 1866 and is thought to be the oldest of its kind in the world.

The site will be in Ewell at 14 Ruxley Lane where dad lived from 1961 until 1965 and the present owner of the house Mr. Sheriff is very happy for the plaque to be put up on the front of the property. We are hoping to have a small unveiling ceremony if any members of this website or Fan Club would like to attend. The timing will depend on everyone’s commitments in the next few months but as soon as I have a date, I will let you know. Because of the recent events with Coronavirus there will be a long delay now before this happens but I will update you when I know more.

Being a special year, I designed something exclusively, the abridged audio of my book: “The Singer’s Singer: The Life and Music of Matt Monro” on a USB stick.

I like to think that I design my merchandise with style and this time round is no different. Bound in leather and offered in a gorgeous presentation box with a magnetic clasp I am thrilled with the outcome. “Words & Music’ includes the equivalent of 3 CD discs that make up the audio book, 9 music tracks (Babycham jingle, Camay jingle, California Here I Come, Dreamdust, Lazy River, Pennies From Heaven, Star Eyes, The Nearness of You, You’re Driving Me Crazy) and 2 video clips (Born Free, My Kind of Girl)..

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Because of its popularity and demand I plan to make this available for the whole of 2020 so if you would like one then please drop me an email. They retail at £15.00 including postage. (UK only).

Would you believe the 27th January marked 10 years since the book launch of “The Singer’s Singer: The Life and Music of Matt Monro”? That is incredible and I have to admit to being really proud that so many of you were interested in learning about the man behind the voice.

What is so unbelievable is that the book is still selling by the box full. I kind of feel everyone in England must have bought a copy by now, lol. Each year I think about whether to take the books on the ships with me, assuming that demand would have diminished but I have been proven wrong several times over. Let’s hope the same runs true with my new publication.

STOP PRESS… STOP PRESS… STOP PRESS
I have changed the name of my new book and the date of release and will update all the details in the coming months. It doesn’t seem to be the right time to release a book on cruising but I am thinking September might be good as everyone will be wanting to book something for 2021 (please god)

Cruise/Work Dates 2021

4 May – 22 May – Fred Olsen Black Watch

Don’t forget to check out our Spotlight feature this month; I know so many of you enjoy them. This month we look in on a great friend of dads, the ever-popular Phyllis Diller (including some rare pics of Matt and Phillis from a Monro family album)

Have a fabulous month and I hope that those that managed to get the album are enjoying it and for those that haven’t got it yet, put your pre-order request in now. If you are loving the album please leave a review on amazon. See you in September.
Stay safe.

Michele xxxx

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