60s Scott Walker: Classic Or Dud

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Doctor, help me. I've long been a fan of Scott Walker but now listening to his records I am hit with the suspicion that they are overwrought nonsense, and not even in a good way. Can I possibly have been wrong all these years?

(I've specified 60s Scott Walker but if anyone wants to start a seperate question about 70s or Climate or Tilt then you know, feel free.)

Tom, Monday, 15 January 2001 01:00 (twenty years ago) link

Yep, Scott Walker is a grumpy old tosser who invented Slooooow music and must therefore burn in hell for his crimes. I feel sorry for his brother.

Pete, Monday, 15 January 2001 01:00 (twenty years ago) link

Obviously it's overwrought nonsense, Tom, and a lot of it sucks nuts, but the best tracks are sublime, and 4 is hilariously classic all the way through. 70s Walker is obviously dudly as nearly everyone will tell you, though the decade did produce my current favorite Walker cut ("If Ships Were Made to Sail," a Jimmy Webb tune) and I couldn't live without Nite Flights. I won't even go into Tilt lest I start fawning.

Otis Wheeler, Monday, 15 January 2001 01:00 (twenty years ago) link

Hey, what would the world be *without* overwrought nonsense? 60's Scott most definitely is, but all the better for it. It's like asking why Dusty Springfield or the Shangri-La's couldn't have been a little more low-key in their approach, or why Britney has to have those little spoken bits of nonsense in her songs...

Nicole, Tuesday, 16 January 2001 01:00 (twenty years ago) link

Yeah, but Scott's overwroughtness is spoiled a bit by his insistence on writing cafe-notebook existential lyrics: with Dusty or the Shangri's or Britney things are lots more direct. I still love lots of his songs but there's a kind of aura of - snob alert - studentness about his stuff which is increasingly pissing me off. Maybe it's just Scott 3.

Tom, Tuesday, 16 January 2001 01:00 (twenty years ago) link

Personally, I find a lot of lyrics *hilarious* - pseudo- intellectual, studenty, etc...but the lyrics were never what drew me to the music. The voice, the arrangements -- that's the bewitching part of the music. If you want to stick to Scott singing "proper songs" (as the dreary Q journalists of the world would put it), you'd have to stick with early Walker Brothers when they were doing Bacharach, etc. And while I find a lot of early Walker Bros. charming and wonderful, they lack the magic of the Scott solo albums.

But that's just me.

Nicole, Tuesday, 16 January 2001 01:00 (twenty years ago) link

i think tom is getting older, and possibly wiser, though if becoming wise means turning against scott's 60s work, may i forever be as ignorant as i am now.

like nicole, i'm drawn to the voice and the arrangements, mostly. you and i know that i pay very little heed to lyrics, though i love some of scott's and laugh at a whole lot more: it's part of the fun.

if i want poetic lyrics, i'll go to dylan (and i won't, you know). or, even better, i'll go to scott *singing* dylan, like "i threw it all away," which is utterly fab (thanks otis!)...because of the voice and arrangement.

fred solinger, Wednesday, 17 January 2001 01:00 (twenty years ago) link

three months pass...
Just thought you might like to know that sanity has now returned and Scott is once more ace. Well, somewhat ace. Also Scott 3 is just as mad in bits as Scott 4 i.e "SEE THE DWARFS AND SEE THE GIANTS!"

There's a great bit in Julian Cope's Repossessed where he confesses that in fact he has hated Scott Walker for years but hasn't dared admit it.

Tom, Friday, 27 April 2001 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link

Tom - congrats on returning to the fold..one word...Jackie

Geoff, Friday, 27 April 2001 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link

Am I the only one who adores all his Brel covers and finds the rest a bit of a yawn? I mean it sounds good, but I always forget to listen to it, which can't be a good sign. I used to think I'd grow into it, but maybe I should give up waiting.

Nick, Friday, 27 April 2001 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link

three months pass...
any song on which you can clearly hear the lyrics (and espescially if it's slow) gets called 'studenty' or '6th form' - stuff by bob dylan, elvis costello, nick drake etc. 'it's raining today' - legendary in every way.

piscesboy, Monday, 30 July 2001 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link

nick - i love his brel stuff, his other 60s stuff not as much - it's still legendary, up there with pitney et al, but not nearly as articulte/visionary as the brel material.

Geoff, Monday, 30 July 2001 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link

His own stuff: classic

The Brel stuff: pretty good

The 'standards': kind of lame

We share the same birthday, me and Scott (and Jimmy Page) - you know, just a couple of decades apart, but still.

CountV/John T, Tuesday, 31 July 2001 00:00 (nineteen years ago) link

three months pass...
I've been a long time Scott fan also and must admit it can be hard to listen to some albums at times. I think for me it seems the main problem is the studied perfection of most of it which grows tedious to my imperfect mind. Actually that's why I sort of dig the mid 70s albums especially Any Day Now. I know I'll always come back to it though.

I prefer the Scott material to the Brel covers. Actually I think the one Scott misses the most is If you Go Away which is just way to studied. I recall Scott talking in an interview once how you have to unlearn everything you learn in singing because it actually gets in the way.

Cheers, Paul

Paul Deras, Tuesday, 6 November 2001 01:00 (nineteen years ago) link

three years pass...
I've read with interest your responses. I must say I think It's
Raining Today: The Scott Walker Story (1967-70) to be nearly perfect.
Who else would write about an aging transvestite ( Big Louise)?
That song, including the lyrics are classic. And what about Jackie, The World's Strongest Man, It's Raining Today, Next, and Little Things
That Keep Us Together? Brilliant. I'm not crazy about the Walker Brothers and Scott's HORRIBLE "Jack Jones" pieces. I mean, ABSOLUTELY
HORRIBLE. His solo work is inconsistent but overall good. I'm looking
forward to the documentary.

Scott Demeter, Monday, 24 January 2005 23:53 (sixteen years ago) link

I've read with interest your responses. I must say I think It's
Raining Today: The Scott Walker Story (1967-70) to be nearly perfect.
Who else would write about an aging transvestite ( Big Louise)?
That song, including the lyrics are classic. And what about Jackie, The World's Strongest Man, It's Raining Today, Next, and Little Things
That Keep Us Together? Brilliant. I'm not crazy about the Walker Brothers and Scott's HORRIBLE "Jack Jones" pieces. I mean, ABSOLUTELY
HORRIBLE. His solo work is inconsistent but overall good. I'm looking
forward to the documentary. scott

Scott Demeter, Monday, 24 January 2005 23:54 (sixteen years ago) link

three years pass...

scott otm. i can't find my copy of '2.' i think i sold it. :(

strgn, Wednesday, 16 July 2008 05:53 (twelve years ago) link

twelve years pass...

Such a serious young man. I advise skipping forward to two minutes in so you don't have to watch more of this crap than you have to. And such skinny legs.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MG5AOljLFJo

Duncan Disorderly (Tom D.), Wednesday, 31 March 2021 21:23 (two weeks ago) link

Extraordinary. Next - to track down his 1971 appearance on The Golden Shot with Bob Monkhouse...

Michael Jones, Thursday, 1 April 2021 14:53 (two weeks ago) link

I was gonna say Jackie but others already have

Dr X O'Skeleton, Friday, 2 April 2021 12:15 (one week ago) link


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