The Second Disc

Expanded and Remastered Music News

Archive for February 3rd, 2011

When Matt Met Hoagy: Rare Monro LP Reissued in U.K.

with 4 comments

The success story of Matt Monro is one unlike any other. The singer, born Terence Edward Parsons in London in 1930, had recorded for both Decca and Fontana, and sang regularly on the BBC, but the brass ring eluded him. Then, in 1960, EMI producer George Martin was seeking a voice to spoof Frank Sinatra’s on a Peter Sellers comedy album cheekily titled Songs for Swinging Sellers. Martin hired Matt Monro, and billed him under the very Sellers-esque pseudonym of “Fred Flange.” Well, the “Flange” recording of “You Keep Me Swingin’” was a hit with listeners, who naturally wondered just who this Flange fellow was. Sinatra himself, maybe? Or man-of-a-thousand-voices Sellers pulling one over? Martin revealed the man behind the curtain, and signed Matt Monro to Parlophone. His first release on the label was a recording of George and Ira Gershwin’s “Love is Here to Stay,” but it didn’t register. His next effort, though, was fellow Brit Cyril Ornadel’s “Portrait of My Love” (popularized in the United States by the young Steve Lawrence). “Portrait” was his breakthrough, and Monro was off and swinging.

Among his contemporaries, Monro recorded comparatively few American standards. He was most successful when tackling songs of European origin, and gave voice to the landmark James Bond theme song, “From Russia with Love.” The song, penned by Lionel Bart of Broadway’s Oliver! fame, was heard in the film as source music and then over the end titles, buoyed by John Barry’s lush orchestration. Monro became a soundtrack specialist, perhaps best remembered for his stirring rendition of Barry and Don Black’s “Born Free,” which Andy Williams covered in America. (Monro scored two American Top 40 hits: “My Kind of Girl” in 1961 and “Walk Away” in 1964.) Monro was a particularly fine interpreter of Barry’s work, and the two men remained close until the singer’s passing in 1985. He and George Martin continued their association, too, and Monro frequently tackled Beatles songs. He was one of the first performers to record Paul McCartney’s “Yesterday,” and did so with warmth and sophistication. He also recorded then-current American pop songs to generally wonderful results, avoiding kitsch territory. His American counterparts returned the favor, with Sinatra tackling a number of songs first associated with Monro, like Leslie Bricusse’s “My Kind of Girl” and the Italian import “Softly As I Leave You.” But Monro’s only LP dedicated to a classic Tin Pan Alley composer was 1962’s Matt Monro Sings Hoagy Carmichael. After a long absence from CD shelves, EMI Gold will next week reissue this classic LP tribute to the “Stardust” writer in an expanded edition as part of a unique package. Hit the jump for details and track listing! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

February 3, 2011 at 13:16

The Second Disc Interview #4: Talking Soundtracks with MV Gerhard of La La Land Records

with one comment

The wide berth of reissues, box sets and compilations across major and independent labels the world over, means some releases can fall through the cracks at times. At The Second Disc, it was always an early mission to make sure the labels handling catalogue soundtrack reissues did not suffer this fate. Intrada, Film Score Monthly, Kritzerland, Varese Sarabande – all are essentials for the catalogue music fan with a taste for soundtracks, and their work is hard to ignore.

La La Land Records, however, may have been one of the brightest spots in the soundtrack world this past year. The Burbank label, in business since 2002, scored an impressive amount of blockbuster film soundtrack releases in the past year. Releases included scores to blockbusters like Caddyshack, Independence Day, The Poseidon Adventure, Home Alone and Batman as well as hit television titles like Days of Our Lives, the remake of Battlestar Galactica, Dead Like MeHuman Target and others. And the new year is shaping up to be another successful one, with two box sets on their way – a first for the label – one devoted to the Medal of Honor game series and the other devoted to The X-Files.

MV Gerhard, the president and co-owner of the label, shows no signs of slowdown. And despite this, he was able to take time out of his very busy schedule to correspond with The Second Disc via e-mail on what it’s like being part of a soundtrack reissue label, the high points of his work and what’s to come. Our deepest thanks to MV for answering The Second Disc’s burning questions, and may all of La La Land’s future efforts be met with continued success!

Read on after the jump!

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Mike Duquette

February 3, 2011 at 11:30

Rumor Alert: Does Axl Think “Better” of “Democracy”?

with 6 comments

It goes without saying that Chinese Democracy has one of the most bizarre histories behind any album in rock and roll history. While most expected Guns N’ Roses to dissolve in the 1990s after nearly all of its members left or were ejected from the band, lead singer and solo original member Axl Rose was insistent that the band’s next album would come out. He remained insistent at various intervals between 1999 and the album’s eventual release in 2008, by which point the band lineup shifted around him, the band dabbled in industrial music and awkward comeback attempts on MTV, and fans shook their heads while reading The New York Times and drinking Dr. Pepper.

So Chinese Democracy has come and gone, and Axl and friends (what? do you call that GN’R?) have sporadically hit the road in support of the not-as-awful-as-you’d-think-but-nowhere-near-Appetite for Destruction LP. What’s next? Does anyone know or care? One person says he does, and the results are two ridiculous not to post here.

Mister Saint Laurent, a singer/songwriter/professional wrestler by trade (I swear I’m not making this up), posted on his official message board a claim to have received documents outlining another step in GN’R’s comeback attempt, including “a very thorough and dedicated plan to re-market Chinese Democracy in the U.S. later this year”:

A full North American arena tour and Best Buy-exclusive reissue of Chinese Democracy would both launch on March 29. The tour would run through May 17 and hit 30 markets, including New York, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Ft. Lauderdale, Boston, Detroit, Toronto, Indianapolis, Phoenix, Minneapolis, Atlanta, Tampa, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., Denver, San Jose, Calgary, Winnipeg, Omaha and Houston.

The album reissue would contain new artwork and a second disc containing bonus material. In addition to remixes of tracks from the album, the bonus disc would contain a new song “Blood in the Water” as well as a new version of “Better” featuring DJ Ashba, which would serve as the radio single for the reissue.

All of this would be announced February 7, with a secret show the day before the Super Bowl (February 5) at The Lodge in Dallas. Yet, it’s February 2 and those in the GN’R camp that were willing to speak to insist they have not received any airfare or itinerary.

Now, why should one even consider such a theory? Really, there’s no reason you should. But the crazy thing is that Mister Saint Laurent has been mired in Chinese Democracy-oriented controversies for years. Since 2007, Laurent has been an alleged leaker of tracks and demos from the album. The facts don’t add up – I can’t see Best Buy agreeing to more copies of an album they already can’t get rid of – but who knows? Of course, this is all to be taken with a heap of salt, but I wonder how many of our readers would consider a reissue of Chinese Democracy if it existed.

Written by Mike Duquette

February 3, 2011 at 09:32