During a recent bout of redecorating the house (not by me I might add) I had to move all my CDs and store all 800 of them, into boxes for safekeeping. This was an onerous task and one I had been trying to avoid but the painter phoned me and said he would be coming to start work in a couple of days……….so I could no longer put off the task.
So one morning I began taking CDs off the storage shelves and carefully placing them in cardboard boxes. It was quite remarkable what I discovered in my collection, CDs I had bought and then never played, stuff I had bought on my trips to Vilnius and Copenhagen (remember the Jazz CDs we bought here Mike?) and not to mention Tel Aviv (that was one hell of a record shop).
One of the CDs I came across was “The Best of Scott Walker and the Walker Brothers” which I think was released about 2006. I decided to give it a listen and realised what a fabulous voice Scott Walker has and how well the performances of various songs have stood the test of time.
One of the most enigmatic figures in rock history, Scott Walker exited the Walker Brothers in 1967 to launch a hugely successful solo career in Britain with a unique blend of orchestrated, almost MOR arrangements with idiosyncratic and morose lyrics. At the height of psychedelia, Walker openly looked to crooners like Sinatra, Jack Jones, and Tony Bennett for inspiration, and to Jacques Brel for much of his material.
None of those balladeers, however, would have sung about the oddball subjects — prostitutes, transvestites, suicidal brooders, plagues, and Joseph Stalin — that populated Walker’s songs. His first four albums hit the Top Ten in the U.K. — his second, in fact, reached number one in 1968, in the midst of the hippie era. By the time of 1969’s Scott 4, the singer was writing all of his material.
Although this was perhaps his finest album, it was a commercial disappointment, and unfortunately discouraged him from relying entirely upon his own material on subsequent releases. After a long period of hibernation, he emerged with an album in 1984, Climate of Hunter, which drew critical raves for a minimalistic, trance-like ambience that showed him keeping abreast of cutting-edge ’80s rock trends. This notoriously reclusive figure, who has rarely been interviewed or even seen in public since his days of stardom, emerged from hibernation in 1995 with a new album, Tilt.
Since then he has released a couple of avant garde albums “The Drift” and “Bish Bosch”, both demanding listening but if you have worked your way through something like Captain Beefhearts “Trout Mask Replica” you will find them difficult, but ultimately rewarding listening.
My focus for this little blog is his work with the Walker Brothers and early solo career and I have chosen what I consider to be the best track they ever laid down, namely “No Regrets”………..listen and marvel at his voice.