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Scott Walker

American singer

Studio Albums

Scott (1967)

Scott 2 (1968)

Scott 3 (1969)

Scott 4 (1969)

Climate of a Hunter (1984)

 

Compilations

Scott Walker Sings Jacques Brel (1981)

 

 

 

Scott Walker

Scott (1967) - 6

Mathilde/Montague Terrace (In Blue)/Angelica/The Lady Came from Baltimore/When Joanna Loved Me/My Death/The Big Hurt/Such a Small Love/You're Gonna Hear From Me/Through a Long and Sleepless Night/
Always Coming Back to You/Amsterdam

Scott Walker is virtually impossible to categorise. he has re-invented himself so many times from lush Walker Brothers ballads, through to the late career musical experimentation that has turned him into an enigma. In the late 60s he produced four almost sublime albums which began by mixing his own songwriting ability with his interpretations of classics and then blossomed into mainly Walker-inspired and written albums.

You might be forgiven for thinking that "Scott" is simply an extension of the Walker Brothers balladry, but there is much more in these songs. Walker has one of the great voices of the 20th century. Deep, resonant and syrupy, it belies the strength of the material on the four albums simply entitled Scott, Scott 2, Scott 3 and Scott 4.

Walker's voice gives him the chance to cross over from middle of the road schmaltz into more interesting adult themes whilst still making you feel their warmth and comfort. There has never been a better interpreter of Jacques Brel material. Scott opens with his version of Brel/Shuman's "Mathilde" and elsewhere we have his interpretations of "My Death" and "Amsterdam" - strong almost vicious offerings.

Elsewhere he tries his hand at some standards like Tim Hardins "The Lady Came From Baltimore" and Barry Mann's "Angelica". The album also includes three Scott Walker originals with "Montague Terrace (In Blue)" being particularly haunting. Indeed Walker showed his ability as a songwriter with the poignant and powerful "Such a Small Love" and the almost spoken "Always Coming Back to You."

Yes some of the album sounds like crooners-paradise but you just know that under the surface lies the heart of a hunter.

 

Scott 2 (1968) - 6

Jackie/Best of Both Worlds/Black Sheep Boy/The Amorous Humphrey Plugg/Next/The Girls from the Streets/Plastic Palace People/Wait Until Dark/The Girls and the Dogs/Windows of the World/The Bridge/Come Next Spring

Apparently Walker described this album as the work of a "lazy, self-indulgent man which is the singer's way of being rather hard on himself. If nothing else the album contains three more Jacques Brel songs- including the incomparable "Jackie" which even Scott manages to deliver with something of a sneer in his vocals.

But of course it has more than that - almost one half of the compositions (five out of 12) are by Walker himself. By this point in his career he has added dramatic content to his writing with "The Amorous Humphrey Plugg" having more than a passing nod to Brel himself and it is no mistake in following Brel's "Next" with his original composition "The Girls from the Street."

"Plastic Palace People" is an interesting and quite complex song - continually changing pace, perhaps a hint of the areas the singer would get into much later in his career. Some of the songs like "Windows of the World" may be just a touch middle of the road for comfort, but there is once again enough quality material on the album to make it worthwhile.

 

Scott 3 (1969) - 5.5

It's Raining Today/Copenhagen/Rosemary/Big Louise/We Came Through/Butterfly/Two Ragged Soldiers/30 Century Man/Winter Night/Two Weeks Since You've Gone/Sons Of/Funeral Tango/If You Go Away

Perhaps there is too much of a disparity on this album between Walker's own writing which now takes the majority of the album and the final three offerings which once again are interpretations of Jacques Brel/Mort Shuman numbers.

Perhaps it's just that the original songs seem just a little too cozy, slightly lacking in spark - too much love and life included methinks. That's not to say that the material is poor, it just needs some re-defining. We Came Through ends with some unsteady thumps and bangs. 30 Century Man is Walker's attempts to be more off the wall and contemporary but sadly doesn't work well. Winter Night is a very slow song.

The best songs without doubt on this album are the Brel offerings which start slowly and then gather in pace with Sons Of outstanding as is also one of Brel's best loved songs "If You Go Away."

 

Scott 4 (1969) 6.5

The Seventh Seal/On Your Own Again/The World's Strongest Man/Angels of Ashes/Boy Child/Hero of The War/The Old Man's Back Again (Dedicated to the Neo-Stalinist Regime)/Duchess/Get Behind Me/Rhymes of Goodbye

The natural progression for Walker was to produce an album entirely of original material and this he achieved with Scott 4. Thankfully the material was strong enough to make it a worthwhile project with songs like Angels of Ashes very effective despite really being a repetiion of the same musical line.

Walker was obviously gaining in strength as a songwriter, hence the decision to go solo and this ia the favourite album of many Walker fans. It is easy to see why. There are lush strings, but again a biting reality to the lyrics which are at times complex. There is a theatrical feel to many of the songs. They may still be slow but there is more of an element of passion about them than on Scott 3. Well crafted songs delivered in the customary manner.

 

Scott Walker Sings Jacques Brel - (1981) - 7

Jackie/Next/The Girls and the Dogs/If You Go Away/Funeral Tango/Mathilde/Amsterdam/Sons Of/My Death/Little Things (That Keep Us Together)

Usually I am not a great fan of compilations, but this was an important one. On Scott, Scott 2 and Scott 3, the singer paid homage to the stark and almost violent songs of Jacques Brel and the English translations by Mort Shuman. It is therefore important to group nine of them together on the same album - albeit a relatively short one with just 10 tracks - the tenth is the Walker original Little Things (That Keep Us Together). I believe the Walker composition has been excluded from the CD release of the original vinyl album.

There is an obviously thematic feel to the album that proves Walker as arguably the best interpreter of Brel there has ever been. So a compilation that stands on its own merit and one that just needed to be.

 

Climate of a Hunter (1984)

Rawhide/Dealer/Track Three/Sleepwalkers Woman/Track Five/Track Six/Track Seven/Blanket Roll Blues