Wednesday, October 25, 2006

130. Scott Walker - Scott 2 (1968)

Track Listing

1. Jackie
2. Best Of Both Worlds
3. Black Sheep Boy
4. Amourous Humphrey Plugg
5. Next
6. Girls From The Streets
7. Plastic Palace People
8. Wait Until Dark
9. Girls And The Dogs
10. Windows Of The World
11. Bridge
12. Come Next Spring


This is a very very strange album. At least for the first 2 or 3 listens, and then it is a beautiful, funny amazing work of self-consciouss kitsch. Scott Walker is a big Brel fan, and so am I, and that really helps. Some of the humor of Brel is here but Scott Walker was also in love with lounge music and big orchestrations... Still, he is the best interpreter of Brel in English (although I like David Bowie's Amsterdam on the BBC sessions), and the three best tracks in this album are Brel tracks, but his own lyrics really aren't out of place here.

So this is an album with extremely gritty lyrics about prostitutes, homosexuality, brothels and gonorreah with amazing John Barry/Ennio Morricone style orchestration... like James Bond soundtrack in some alternate universe...

The album is extremely over the top, but I wouldn't like it any other way. It is in fact pretty funny, but there are moments of delicate beauty here, like Windows Of The World or The Bridge. And it is musically pretty innovative, it is very strange in this world of Sgt. Pepper's to actually be more sincere and racy with your lyrics than the whole rock and pop scene but do it in a Frank Sinatra voice with the soundtrack for Dr. No behind you... I love it.

You really need to listen to this, so stream it from Napster or buy it from Amazon UK or US.

Track Highlights

1. Jackie
2. Next
3. The Girls And The Dogs
4. Windows Of The World

Final Grade



Scott Walker Chocolate Commercial in Japan! Santori Time:

And Jackie (crap sound quality so crank it up):

From Wikipedia:

Walker soon began a solo career in a style clearly glimpsed in Images, the Walker's last album. To this he added a provocative mixture of risqué recordings of Jacques Brel songs, ably translated by Mort Shuman. These combined a literary quality, foreign to the English speaking pop scene, with vivid orchestrations. Jackie celebrated a jaundiced view of the life of a popular singer and fame while at the same time capturing its driving verve. The BBC banned the song because "queers", "phoney virgins" and "bordellos" featured in its striking lyrics. Nonetheless, it made it to the pop charts. Nine of these intense chanson art songs feature on the first three solo Walker albums and remain the standout cover versions of Brel classics in English almost 40 years later.

Walker's own original songs of this period are a late, last flowering of a dark Romanticism tinged with Surrealism and Existential angst. They are influenced by Brel and in some inchoate way, the writing of Jean-Paul Sartre and Albert Camus and early twentieth century European thought, poetry, art and music (despite the fact that by then Existentialism was waning as a philosophical and literary fashion). Walker explored European musical roots while paradoxically expressing his own American experience and alienation. He was also inching to a new maturity as a recording artist. This would bear incredible fruit with his marvellous country recordings in the early seventies.

As the Walker Brothers phenomenon had rolled on, Scott had thrown himself into intense study of contemporary and classical music, even living in a monastery in France to learn Gregorian chant. His own songs gradually course into Lieder and classical musical modes and are more musically developed than that virile Belgian, Brel, who formed his style in Paris's post war boites and cabarets. Sung in a voice reminiscent of Jack Jones or with power of a hip Frank Sinatra, each song is treated uniquely without any house style evident. The breadth of subject and musical means used to deliver them remain impressive, while the power of Walker's delivery probably discouraged cover versions.

Scott Walker's early solo career was extremely successful in Britain; his first three albums, titled Scott (1967), Scott 2 (1968) and Scott 3 (1969) all sold in large numbers, Scott 2 topping the British charts. There were also early indications that this concentrated attention was not conducive to his emotional well being. He became reclusive and somewhat distanced from his audience. During this time, he combined his earlier teen appeal with a darker, more idiosyncratic approach hinted at in songs like Orpheus on the Images album. Scott drove a fine line between classic ballads, his own poetic compositions and great Brel covers, all delivered inimitably.

At the peak of this fame in 1969, he had his own British TV series, Scott, featuring solo Walker performances of ballads, big band standards and introductions of his own and Brel compositions. He admitted in recent interviews that a certain self-indulgent complacency crept into the choice of material and the use of slow tempos by his third album.

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