Early Recordings

Matt Alexander

A mix of folk, folk rock and acoustic pop.

PRESS RELEASE August, 2008


Singer-songwriter, Matthew Alexander, has just released a new CD entitled “Matt Alexander: Early Recordings 1967-1977.” The CD contains 19 original songs that had their origins as either home recordings or demos made for record and publishing companies during the formative years of his musical career. “I see this record as a fulfillment of a promise made to my younger self” he told me. “It amazes me that these original audio recordings, some as old as forty years, have finally made it onto a CD. My stage name at the time I made these tapes was Matt Alexander and so I used that name for the disc.”

Getting the songs from audio tape to digital groove was not an easy task, Alexander says. “In the years between when these recordings were made and now, the reel-to-reel tapes on which they existed were carted around the country in cardboard boxes, stored in basements and closets, susceptible to moisture, mildew and extreme temperatures”. In order to restore them, Alexander had to utilize the services of a Canadian audiophile, Richard Hess, who specializes in restoring old recordings. “In many cases, he had to “bake” tapes and, in some cases, just let them sit in the open air for weeks at a time”. Since none of Alexander’s reel-to-reel tape recorders worked, he had not heard some of these recordings for four decades. “It was like opening a time vault to hear them again”.

The CD showcases Alexander’s original style of songwriting as well as his substantial talents as a guitarist and pianist. “I didn’t have the money to hire studio musicians so I played many of the instruments (bass, guitar and piano) myself.” The genres on the CD range from folk to folk-rock to country to classical. Perhaps the most arresting song is a song entitled “Bring Your Friends Home, David” a six and a half minute song about a young boy killed by a car in a freak accident. The song is written from the perspective of the grieving mother, flashes back and forth in time and has several tempo changes throughout. It is starkly performed with Alexander’s guitar, a second guitar and vocal.

“When I first played this song for my parents, my father, who was a classical composer, paid me the ultimate compliment and said that it reminded him musically of the great classical composer Schubert” Alexander told me. “The song attracted the interest of Lou Stallman, a prominent NYC music publisher who specialized, among other things, in novelty songs and who eventually published and produced the song”

Alexander got the chance to play this song for his finger-picking, songwriting idol Paul Simon. “My sister-in-law was a student at NYU and she was able to get me into a songwriting class that Paul Simon offered at the time. As a newcomer to the class, he walked in, looked at me and asked me to play a couple of songs on my guitar. His comment on the first song I played (“Nancy’s on my Mind” which is showcased in Alexander’s recently released CD Daredevil Angel) was that I was a good finger picker. He then asked me to play a second song and I chose to play “Bring Your Friends Home, David” Alexander told me. “Despite the fact that it is a long song, Simon immediately suggested that I play it a second time. After the second time around, he asked each member of the class to say what they thought about the song”. At this point in the interview, Alexander tenses a bit before continuing with his story. “The other students’ reaction? Half the class loved the song and half the class hated it. Finally Paul opined dismissively that he thought it was maudlin and informed me that one should never write a song with a name in the title that was not a name of a real person (David was a fictional character). Simon then moved on to critique the next songwriter”. “Needless to say”, Alexander says, “ I have never forgotten this encounter”.

The disc includes demonstration recordings made in 1971 for the record company Musicor which produced, among other artists, Gene Pitney. “Musicor was owned by a father and son team. The son liked my songs enough that he brought me into the recording studio with a studio pianist to record four demos (Crying and Going My Way are featured on Early Recordings). Unfortunately, his father was not impressed so that was the end of that”.

When Alexander moved to LA, he made the rounds of publishing houses. One of these publishing houses was Four Star Music. “I would go from publishing house to publishing house with my guitar and play my songs. I hit pay dirt one day when I walked into Four Star Music and played my songs for their A and R person, a young woman by the name of Jody, who loved them!” Four Star Music went on to be publish three of Alexander’s songs “Counting the Hours”, Give It Away” and When We Say Goodbye” and helped him demo many others. “Back then, if your songs were published, the publishing company would record you in the studio, press acetates (i.e. vinyls) of the songs and arrange for formal lead sheets to be made. It was the royal treatment”, Alexander informed me. “I would sign reverse clauses which allowed me to keep the song if no one recorded it within a twelve month period which is why I now have these songs published with my own company, Rising Moon Music”.

The CD includes three original demos of songs that show up on Alexander’s critically acclaimed CD Daredevil Angel. These are: “Shine”,” Right Now” and “When We Say Goodbye”. The CD also includes a political song (“Reap What You Sow”), a Beatles inspired song (“Oh Beautiful One”) and several finger-picking beauties (“Baby I’m Trying to Find You” and “The Master Craftsman”). The last song on the CD (“Love is an Endless Road”) is Alexander’s favorite. “I love the feel of that recording…the vocal and instruments really breathe. When I hear the song, I am transported back in a time machine to my younger years traveling the long, sun-drenched roads of Los Angeles in search of the holy grail of a recording contract. While I initially wrote it about a girl friend, the song now fits my feelings about my children, Ethan (aged nine) and Natalie (aged five)”.

When I played Alexander’s new recording “Chattanooga Boogie” (on Daredevil Angel) immediately after “Love Is an Endless Road’, the vocal quality sounded eerily similar despite the thirty odd years separating the songs. Alexander tells me, “I advise aspiring musicians and songwriters to find your sound and keep doing it! Eventually the world will catch up with you!” Sound words of advice, indeed, from a most accomplished sound man!

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    Shine 2:33
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