Review: Matt Monro: The Complete EMI Recordings 1971-1984, Cherry Red

Andy Howells reviews a new collection of material from Matt Monro available from Cherry Red Records

Matt Monro’s soft silky vocal tones delighted many music fans throughout the 1960s and 70s. Since Matt’s passing in 1985, his music has endured through his recordings of ballads, Portrait of My Love and Softly, As I Leave You and perhaps more famously his rendition of The Beatles’ Yesterday, the James Bond theme From Russia with Love and the theme song from The Italian Job, On Days Like These.

Matt’s 1960s output has been well served in recent years through a variety of compilation albums and its not surprising, his voice remains timeless. Compared frequently in his lifetime to Frank Sinatra, even Ol’ Blue Eyes was a fan of Matt.

In 1971, when Matt Monro returned from America, after his time with Capitol records following the passing of Nat King Cole, he re-joined the EMI label. Matt Monro: The Complete EMI Recordings 1971-1984 pulls together every recording made for EMI throughout the remainder of his career, including previously released and unreleased out-takes and alternate versions from four studio albums, live recordings and even radio jingles.

The delightful attraction of Matt Monro, unlike many of his contemporaries, is that his music doesn’t date. The musical arrangements from the likes of George Martin, Roy Budd and Johnnie Spence remain as fresh as Matt’s vocals. Ballads such as Bridge Over Troubled Water, When You Wish Upon a Star, and Over the Rainbow or bigger numbers such as I Close My Eyes and Count to Ten, Let Me Sing and I’m Happy and I’m Glad I’m Not Young Anymore still sound like they were recorded only yesterday.

This release has plenty for Monro fans old and new to discover including new mixes of tracks from his album The Other Side of The Stars, vocal versions of Chattanooga Choo Choo and the theme to Van der Valk (And You Smiled) plus his own interpretations of George Harrison’s Isn’t It a Pity, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Memory, and The Bee Gee’s First of May.

The Complete EMI Recordings 1971-1984 brings together many jewels from Matt Monro’s musical legacy, some familiar, some not so. Four decades on from his passing, Matt’s heartfelt vocal delivery continues to delight and uplift us through this definitive collection.

Matt Monro: The Complete EMI Recordings 1971-1984 is released by Cherry Red Records on 23 June 2023

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