Sunday, April 29, 2012

Caroline Munro's musical career

This article was first previously published on my now defunct Hammer Glamour website. For this blog post I have only made slight modifications. At the time it was the only overview online about her musical career but since it got posted Karl Sherlock's Numa Records - The Formative Years has added a great section on Caroline Munro with info and record scans that far FAR surpasses mine though I was able to also help him out with the scans and tracks for Caroline's Convention Demo Tape. Definitely do check them out for a more complete overview of this part of Caroline's career. In actual fact just by reviewing their pages for today's updates was I even made aware of Munro's husband/wife collaborations with Judd Hamilton in the 1970s!

At the time of writing the first version of this article YouTube wasn't even around. Nowadays, however, exploring her musical career has never been easier and I dropped most of the scans I had posted (and long lost again in Cyberspace) for YouTube clips.

This article is probably a bit past its sell-by date but blogging about Caroline Munro's music videos made me recall it and bring it out of the cupboard.

Throughout her career, Caroline Munro repeatedly tried to break into the music business. In actual fact, prior to ever getting into modelling or acting and while still at school at the age of 16, she recorded a cover version of Tar and Cement together with Eric Clapton, Ginger Baker and Jack Bruce of Cream and Steve Howes of Yes as backing musicians. For a good while that single has been something of a Holy Grail for Munro Collectors as it was quite difficult to trace and also proved expensive enough due to her now famous fellow musicians involved in it at the start of their own careers but nothing stays obscure for too long these days and it has since found its way to YouTube and elsewhere. It’s a cheerful ditty tune that will keep you humming throughout the day and quite possibly the best song she has ever recorded.

In the subsequent years she became quite successful as a model and poster girl for Lamb’s Navy Rum and also started a promising acting career. She also appeared as the cover girl on some albums. In 1972 e.g. she appeared as an archer in Robin Hood gear on the front and back cover of Hot Hits 11. She also appeared on the cover of a Top of the Pops sleeve. Some more cover appearances have since been posted on Karl Sherlock's tribute (even though I don't think the Europa Hitparade is Munro).

In 1971 Caroline Munro did not just appear as a cover girl but in actual fact was also the subject of a song herself! For his first solo album "One Year" Colin Blunstone, lead singer of The Zombies, wrote a song called Caroline Goodbye about the breakup of their relationship.

Caroline’s most famous recording was Gary Numan’s production Pump Me Up. The single was released in 1984 and also featured Numan on keyboards and backing vocals. It’s recorded in typical Numan style, i.e. her voice is completely drowned in some monotonous synthesiser sounds and it's hard to understand what she's singing.

The B-Side, The Picture, is actually much better. In that song she sounds very much Blondie’ish.

Caroline was so serious about trying to get a break as a pop star that she even accepted a singing cameo in Don’t Open ‘Til Christmas in 1984 and co-wrote the song Warrior of Love. Little did she know that her one-day shot was turned into a "starring" role for her on the film’s posters thanks to the producers’ savvy marketing tactics.

Over the next couple of years, Caroline made only a handful of films and concentrated more on her family and raising her young kids. In the second half of the 1990s she rekindled her career by starting to run her own fan club. Again very keen on making it as a singer, she produced a private tape with excerpts of Warrior of Love, the very Country & Westernish Everything I Need and Numan’s Pump Me Up. On that tape she also spoke and introduced the songs and excerpts. The tape was distributed around "The Monster Model Fest ‘96" in Framingham, Massachusetts.

Shortly later she teamed up with fellow musician Gary Wilson and – under the name of Wilson Munro – recorded a CD with cover versions of Let It Be Me, Everlasting Love and Cruisin’, a tune written by Wilson's cousin Clive Wilson and Brian Hodgson, two long standing session musicians. Clive played the guitars on that CD as well and was also involved in Christopher Lee's recordings of It's Now Or Never and Wanderin' Star. The tunes on the Wilson Munro CD are easy enough to listen to, but unfortunately Wilson’s voice is stronger than Caroline’s and she often comes across as little more than a prominent backing musician. The CD was sold via her Official Fan Club.

Her most successful recording was actually not a musical tune, but rather an audio CD for Big Finish’s Dr Who Adventure Omega, released in 2003! Though at times hard to follow for someone not too familiar with the good Doctor, this CD is nonetheless a Must for Caroline Munro Fans as this is by far the best acting she ever did. It’s hard to believe that this is the lady who was dubbed in most of her important roles. Caroline really takes very well to the audio medium and I would sure love to hear more from her in that kind of production. Her voice is amazing: soothing, sexy, ironic, stern, whatever it needs to be. And to think that she was worried about the production because of her dyslexia is unbelievable. Her performance is nothing short but a revelation. The CD is still available from Amazon UK.


david s said...

there is a gatefold album with her in it

Holger Haase said...

There is? Do you have more details about this or maybe even a scan?

musicdavetherave said...

I have two more album pictures if you want an upload? Cheers!

Holger Haase said...

Oh yes, would very much like that. Can you please mail them to me at holger[dot]haase[at]gmail[dot]com. Thank you so much. :-)