TAR AND CEMENT
ON COLUMBIA RECORDS, INC.
Demo 7 " single 45 r.p.m.
Columbia Records, 1967
§01 Tar and Cement (2:56)
§02 This Sporting Life ( 3:08)
Track 01, "Tar and Cement" (a.k.a. "La maison oúj'ai grandi"): original French version written and
composed by Luciano Beretta, Adriano Celentano and Michele Del Prete; English Version written by
Lee J. Pockriss, Paul Vance and Adriano Celentano; produced and arranged by Mark Wirtz.
Track 02, "This Sporting Life" (a.k.a. "Sporting Life Blues"): written by Brownie McGhee and Sonny
Terry; produced, arranged and conducted by Mark Wirtz
Please direct all inquiries, corrections, comments and additions to Karl.Sherlock@gcccd.edu. Written
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"Tar and Cement" is Caroline Munro's first single, which she recorded at the age of 17 while
she was still in school. By this point, she had already performed her first modeling gigs, so
the song represents those initial, tenuous steps to cross over from fashion and advertising
into legitimate entertainment.
The song is actually an English language adaptation from the French "La maison oúj'ai
grandi," which is characteristic of the French influence on mid 60s pop and lounge music
exemplified by other popular artists like Jacques Brels. Ardent critics of this style of music
might regard the young Miss Munro's "Tar and Cement" as merely a neutered take on a blues
anthem--one that, like Caroline's life as a model, blandished substance for the sake of style.
Such claims are not without merit either: one can easily imagine how Janice Joplin, for
example, would have made "Tar and Cement" substantively her own while retaining its core
inspiration as a blues song. On the other hand, . . . why not? Why shouldn't Munro's very
controlled--call it "sanitized" if you like--version belie her experiences as a construct of
fashion and style; a free spirit aching to step out from behind the carefully designed but
ultimately artificial image that others have used to blandish her own personality in favor of
one that is more commercially safe? Besides, the recent so-called reality programs that
chronicle the emergence of artificially constructed pop bands demonstrate just how readily
the public responds to music as a product beholden to market trends, commercial
investment, and the indispensable role of songs covered and remade in the image of that
market culture. Munro's "Tar and Cement"/"This Sporting Life" is hardly the worst example of
this, nor is it the earliest. Granted, if critics don't care for the style, then, fine, leave it at that
and accept it as a difference in taste rather than as an indicator of dodgy talent. Besides, it
was her first recording, for cryin' out loud, so give her a break!
TAR AND CEMENT
Those who are working backward from her recording of "Pump Me Up" on the Numa Records
label might find "Tar and Cement" a bit shocking in that it seems far afield from the music one
might expect a seventeen-year-old in 1967 to be singing. But it does attest to the easy-
listening roots of Munro's music, to which she would return again after her stint with Numa. In
her October 2001 webzine interview in Horror-Wood, Munro tells writer Dave Hagan, "I was
very lucky to have the opportunity to work with Gary 'Cars' Numan. . . . ['Pump Me Up'] was a
very different sound ala Numan, and I believe the single did very well in Europe. I had
recorded quite a bit before working with Gary, and have done quite a lot since then."
Unfortunately, the "different sound" of which Munro spoke was not quite the sound that best
suited her talents as an easy-listening vocalist. Although the single did moderately well in
Italy, it was generally a commercial failure.
In fact, Munro rarely seemed to have been in control of her own destiny as a recording artist,
and virtually from the beginning she pursued recording opportunities by allying herself with
other established musicians and singers. Whether it be with Gary Numan on "Pump Me Up"
Adam Ant on his music video for "Goody Two Shoes," or even her ex-husband, Judd
unfortunate dependency on other artists that surely must have caused a gnawing feeling of
disappointment at times for a woman who earnestly wished to make a name for herself as a
singer. Adding to this is the fact that, of all her recordings, "Tar and Cement" is the one most
staunchly defended today as the best in her career. In truth, Munro has recorded many
songs that are a truer example of her singing talent and are better arranged and produced,
so this unyielding impression that she peaked in her singing career before she even had one
must be quite frustrating.
THIS SPORTING LIFE
On certain demo pressings, Columbia Records might have mistakenly credited Roberto
Gerhard for authorship of this B-side to "Tar and Cement." Gerhard, in fact, did compose a
song titled "This Sporting Life" as part of the musical score for the 1963 film of the same
name; in fact, the film's star, Richard Harris, was the first to "sing" this eponymous
composition from the soundtrack. However, Caroline Munro and Mark Wirtz actually adapted
and arranged the 1930s Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee song, "Sporting Life Blues," and
renamed it "This Sporting Life" for the Columbia Records single. (A shout of thanks goes to
Kimberly Lindbergs for clarifying this in her article "A Little Night Music." Cinebeats:
Munro's vocal styling on the Columbia Records demo possesses a contrived world-
weariness that is inevitable when a seventeen-year-old sings about the existential angst of
old age and loss: it was material well beyond Caroline's ken, and therefore lacked credible
soul needed to give a blues song its melancholic depth.
On the A-side, however, Munro shares the spotlight in a fortuitous
collaboration with other talented artists who likewise received
their start with "Tar and Cement". The single's backing musicians
included Eric Clapton; Steve Howe of Yes; and Ginger Baker and
Jack Bruce of Cream. As a result, this Columbia Records demo
is highly collectible on the secondary market--that is, if you can
find it at all. When it does make the rare appearance on the
auction block, its usual valuation reaches into the hundreds of