Mark Steyn presented a two-part conversation with Don Black, who used to be Matt’s manager, about his recent bestselling memoir The Sanest Guy in the Room, which was posted online on January 2, 2021. These are the links:
The biggest story of the year so far is the news that ‘Music by John Barry’, a new book in praise of more than forty of his film scores, is close to publication!
Sources close to the project tell us that this near 500-page book is the best work so far from the three scribes. OK, technically it’s also the first, but you get the idea! You can see more details on this cunningly constructed flyer by the artist, Ruuders.
Now, in view of how poorly the previous book, ‘Hit and Miss: The Story of The John Barry Seven’ sold, it seems highly likely that copies of this new book will be in limited supply. So, do yourself a favour and indicate your interest immediately by contacting the writers via this email link.
Details of price and publication date will be sent to you as soon as possible, and anybody who then orders it is *guaranteed* a copy. In fact, if requested, at least one, maybe two of the authors will sign your copy. They might even do so even if you don’t request it. 🙂
One More Time is a work in progress documentary which tells the
story of the musicians who worked on studio sessions during the
sixties and seventies. Several former members of The JB7 have taken
Project director Alan Boyd would very much appreciate it if you would check out the website at
We have started a new website https://jukeboxjury.uk/
Juke Box Jury was one of the BBC’s flagship programmes, which introduced viewers to Saturday evening viewing during the sixties. The hope was that having started watching JBJ, viewers would enjoy it and continue to watch the BBC programmes that followed, such as Dixon of Dock Green, The Billy Cotton Band Show, Perry Mason, etc., for the rest of the evening.
Since the BBC carelessly wiped all but two episodes, our long-term
aim is for this developing website to be able to include the relevant
details of all 400-plus programmes. This will feature not only the
panellists and the records on which they voted, but also the identity of
every mystery guest. A slightly less easy goal is to indicate a hit or a
miss decision for each record played and discussed.
Thoroughly and painstakingly researched over a number of years, it will feature contributions from several ex-members of the band and from friends and relatives of John Barry.
Comprising of over 350 pages, it will also be packed with an array of rare photos of the band, and the singers they often supported, as well as some unique images of memorabilia and documentation from that era; some never previously published, many more seldom seen.
Even if you are not necessarily a devotee of The John Barry Seven per se, the book offers a fascinating historical insight into the British music scene of the period and, more importantly, provides an essential read for anybody remotely interested in discovering more about John Barry’s formative career.
It will be of great assistance to the authors if you would indicate an interest in purchasing a copy of the book *now*, without obligation. We will then be able to notify you as soon as the book is available with details of cost and how to order and pay.
My husband Alan and I are great fans of Matt’s. Alan’s uncle Neddy Sparkes and Matt were best of friends when Neddy (Robert Sparkes) and Matt, then Terry Parsons was in the Royal Tank Regiment in Hong Kong together. Neddy was in the in the Royal Artillery.
Both sang in the NAFFI and and both eventually were stopped from taking part in singing competitions. Matt in the BBC documentary The Man With The Golden Voice says “I was banned from competing because I always won, they said it was because my best friend was master of ceremonies, so it was probably true”, jokingly. “Trouble was when I was MC Neddy won”. The reason he won and this comes from Neddy was he was the best.
Any way we have some pictures of Matt and Neddy in Hong Kong together.
Over the past few years stories have circulated suggesting that John Barry did not arrange and conduct Matt Monro’s 1972 single comprising of “This Way Mary” & “Wish Now Was Then”, both based on themes from Mary, Queen of Scots.
The instigator of these stories may have been Richard Moore, the Audio Restoration specialist, in his book about the recordings of Matt Monro, which was part of a special edition of a biography of Matt written by his daughter, Michele.
Richard credited Colin Keyes as arranger/conductor on these recordings; despite the fact the original single credits JB; and EMI repeated the credit when providing me with “label copy” for the CD, The Don Black Songbook. In view of this, I asked Richard for more details, and his explanation is worth repeating in full.
“Yes this was a mystery solved in many ways. The original single doesn’t list an arranger or conductor and no paperwork for this session other than the “red form” (which was the session booking form) survives and this has no indication of who it was. However, as I’m sure you’re aware; Matt does not appear on the soundtrack of the film so it wasn’t clear if John Barry had any involvement.
As luck would then have it, whilst Michele was interviewing Colin he spoke of his first session – This Way Mary/Wish Now Was Then.
A short while later Michele uncovered some contemporary paperwork which listed arrangers and conductors of all recent material (dating from about 1973) which once again confirmed Colin as Arranger and Conductor.
Matt must have recorded the songs due to his long association with Don Black without John Barry’s involvement, in a similar vein to the Alice in Wonderland tracks in 1972 – also arranged and conducted by Colin.
All arrangers and conductors have been verified in the book and if I can find no documentation as to who it was (this only occurs two or three times and often to unreleased material) this is specified in the text.
There are no alternate versions of those tracks so I can only assume that EMI were simply guessing when they gave you that information as they did not know themselves – after all how many times has John Barry been credited as arranger (and even sometimes composer) of “From Russia With Love” (even to the point where Matt’s version appears on one John Barry compilation when the recording has no JB involvement at all!).”
On the face of it his explanation sounds plausible, but he makes some assumptions which are contradicted by other evidence.
Firstly, he states that “The original single doesn’t list an arranger or conductor” — but it does; see the photos, kindly supplied by Gareth Bramley, below. Richard may have seen an on-line demo version which contains no credits.
Secondly, there is a photo of John, Don Black & Matt at a recording session, which, looking at their appearance, is clearly taken in the early 70s. There is no other Matt Monro recording involving John & Don at which this could have been taken. The later Matt Monro single of “Curiouser & Curiouser” & “The Me I Never Knew” was arranged & conducted by Colin Keyes.
Colin could easily have confused his session with the earlier one when asked about it by Michele — it was decades ago, after all.
Thirdly, the paperwork found by Michele “dating from about 1973” — could have been compiled some time after the 1972 recording, and if, as suggested above, the paperwork for the session is missing, somebody could merely have assumed Keyes was involved, based on his work on the tracks from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.
Finally, I think we should also trust our own ears. If you listen to the two singles, it seems clear, at least to me and those with whom I’ve discussed it, that John was responsible for the MQOS recordings.