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MATT MONRO'S MAGIC DOMINATES THIS ESSENTIAL SINGLES COLLECTION
on 24 January 2010
It's hard to realise Matt Monro died twenty-five years ago. Fortunately, he left a superb catalogue of magical recordings that have stood the test of time, with each verifying what a superb singer he was. Thanks to the unstinting efforts of his daughter Michele, together with EMI, there have been many excellent collections released over the years and THE COMPLETE SINGLES COLLECTION is equally welcome. Its expansive 130 song trawl is spread over five discs and covers Matt's entire career with even his early platters from Decca (1956/57) and Philips/Fontana (1958) included, with standards GONE WITH THE WIND, MY OLD FLAME and PRISONER OF LOVE plus pop covers of THE GARDEN OF EDEN and MY HOUSE IS YOUR HOUSE aka MI CASA SU CASA amongst embryonic song choices. Surprisingly, these recordings confirm Matt's vocal style and approach was already mature and merely in need of the polished veneer of further experience he had gained by the time he signed with EMI'S Parlophone label in 1960. His first single, a shuffle-beat LOVE WALKED IN, preceded his initial Chart hit PORTRAIT OF MY LOVE which headed SOFTLY AS I LEAVE YOU, WALK AWAY, YESTERDAY, MY KIND OF GIRL, FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE, WHY NOT NOW? CAN THIS BE LOVE? among further winners. Whilst film-inspired themes BORN FREE, WEDNESDAY'S CHILD and ON DAYS LIKE THESE may not have been amongst these immediate hits, they slow-burned their way into Matt's popular repertoire and no doubt sold very well over the years.
Being a complete collection of both "A" and "B" side pop singles, there are examples of songs which lack distinction but regardless of the material's worth, Matt never gave less than his very best, with expressive input overcoming any negative factors, so each recording brightly shines as an example of his understanding of lyrics; tenderly applied and totally delivered to reach the emotional heartbeat of the listener. He certainly worked with the best arranger/conductors and Johnnie Spence, Sid Feller, Billy May, and Kenny Clayton were amongst the regulars whilst legendary producer George Martin was on hand as guiding hand in the recording studio for much of Matt's career. Highlights include WHEN I FALL IN LOVE which equals the emotional power of Nat's, whilst MY LOVE AND DEVOTION, SOMEWHERE, THE IMPOSSIBLE DREAM, TRY TO REMEMBER and FOR MAMA are amongst strong ballads that put Matt ahead of the competition. COME BACK TO ME, GONNA BUILD A MOUNTAIN, HERE AND NOW and ON A CLEAR DAY are contrasting swingers which confirm upbeat tenacity whilst CURIOUSER AND CURIOUSER, MAMA PACKED A PICNIC TEA; the dramatic intensity of WHEN YOU BECOME A MAN, country and western flavoured THERE YA GO and banner-waving WE'RE GONNA CHANGE THE WORLD are refreshing oddities to cherish. It would be churlish to ignore Matt's popular Spanish recordings with versions of MY WAY (A MI MANERA), WEDNESDAY'S CHILD (VEN MI AMOUR) and CAN'T TAKE MY EYES OFF OF YOU (NO PUEDO QUITAR MIS OJOS DE TI) amongst an included handful, with just L'ETOILE DU SUD representing his French-language output.
Many songs reach CD for the first time and make for exciting listening; others have been remixed to stereo, with included recording dates, catalogue numbers, highest UK/US Chart placings etc. and each disc reflects a different style logo representing Matt's EMI career through the Parlophone, Capitol, and Liberty labels. A typical 45rpm. sleeve image is appropriately utilised as the CD set's cover, leaving Michele Monro's notes to briefly explore personal and professional facets of her father's career and recordings. This is certainly a welcome song-packed anthology that will be an essential purchase for all Matt's devoted fans as well as a "must have" for those who appreciate the enduring vocal talent of this great British singer.