TS: Scott, Scott 2, Scott 3, or Scott 4

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It's alway been Scott 2 for me, for reasons other people have listed above (...Humphrey Plugg, Jackie.

2, 3, Till The Band Comes In, Tilt, 4, Climate Of The Hunter, 1

aldo_cowpat (aldo_cowpat), Sunday, 15 February 2004 10:15 (thirteen years ago) Permalink

Dan Setzer OTM - 4 is variable, for me it's "The Old Man's Back Again" that I can't get on with, not "The Seventh Seal".

coincidence ! as Tico wrote his post i wrote the exact opinion.

george gosset (gegoss), Sunday, 15 February 2004 10:47 (thirteen years ago) Permalink

oh, of course it's not the exact opinion, no, i meant to say "the exact opposite"

(stating an oversight and instead accidentally overstating a coincidence !)

i meant to simply indicate that i wasn't simply and deliberately saying the obvious of Tico. Now it's become superfluous.. words vs. substance in a scott walker collision. coincidence upon coincidence. synchronicity ?(no!) flaky, vague, yes.

george gosset (gegoss), Sunday, 15 February 2004 10:58 (thirteen years ago) Permalink

Scott 3 for me, though 4 isn't too far behind. Don't forget "Til the Band Comes In", also...

I've never found the first two quite on the same level as 3 and 4; while there's great stuff on them, they don't have the same consistency.

Tom May (Tom May), Sunday, 15 February 2004 17:08 (thirteen years ago) Permalink

i've only heard the four scott songs on nite flights, and they are disturbing and intense, my favourite stuff of his after ".. band comes in" -- how do the efforts of the other two Walkers on nite flights stack up against this stuff ? are they like the band coming in ?

(i've read it suggested that nite flights was all really written by Scott -- does this claim make any sense ?)

george gosset (gegoss), Monday, 16 February 2004 03:16 (thirteen years ago) Permalink

I like to think of these together.

RJG (RJG), Monday, 16 February 2004 03:17 (thirteen years ago) Permalink

I think The Seventh Seal is weak. It's easily my least favorite track on 4. But when he made his existential statement back then, existentialism wasn't just for college freshmen who are sitting in their dorm reading Camus and Nietzsche and they tell their mate that they're quitting university because it no longer matters to them.

Scott 3 has some of the most gorgeous strings. Scott 2 is wonderful and naughty.

Pitchfork freaky style scale:

Aloner, 1: 8.2
2: 9.1
3: 9.8
4: 9.9 (would be a 10 if opened with "On Your Own" again)

Star Hustler, Monday, 16 February 2004 07:01 (thirteen years ago) Permalink

I'm drunk.

Star Hustler, Monday, 16 February 2004 07:02 (thirteen years ago) Permalink

Tsar Hushtler, you may be drunk, but you're right about 7th seal and this :
But when he made his existential statement back then, ..

reading about Walker's life
(in "Another Tear Falls" which while intriguing is very wet -- the author overwhelmed and scared in his devotion to Scott that he doesn't track him down, doesn't even try, assuming Walker a non-cooperator -- the book never get's much further than sitting down with the author's pet-favourite list and drawing conclusions from the art and from the press clippings -- no interviews with anyone but plenty of prosaic "i note it's raining today,. i wonder what Scott's doing across London" filler, but anyway),

it's this alienation thing that comes across, his weird subject-of-rumour lifestyle, the lonely side of stardom. existential angst was possibly a perfect public fit for someone becoming more shy of his public, supposedly selling off his record collection when the royalties stopped, working in a hurry when he had to, withdrawing again, ignoring david bowie, name-crossing a movie. like a 20something star grows up, reads more, begins to feel less significant, stuck with a MOR TV show on which he can't sing his own great songs.

(i felt the book was a waste of time & amounted to a three-part music feature for the indie-paparazzi)

george gosset (gegoss), Monday, 16 February 2004 09:19 (thirteen years ago) Permalink

Why is The Seventh Seal weak, exactly? Too literal a read of Bergman's film? Because (as noted above), the melody and arrangement are quite delicious...

Naive Teen Idol (Naive Teen Idol), Tuesday, 17 February 2004 04:47 (thirteen years ago) Permalink

I quite like the Seventh Seal, but I agree it's a bit weak. There's the literal reading, but also some dud lines and it's a bit too kitsch. Of course, you could say that's half the appeal...

Jonathan Z. (Joanthan Z.), Tuesday, 17 February 2004 09:06 (thirteen years ago) Permalink

Why is The Seventh Seal weak, exactly?

i have not seen the Bergamn film. But i _was_ in a video store _today_ and looked at the sleek dvd of 'the seventh sign' (or 'seal' or whatever) and stubbornly decided _no_ because of this thread, because of Scott Walker !
no, the song should stand on it's own i said to myself -- let the song speak to me first, unaided.


(1) musically, i hate the way the song keeps moving up a key -- that very kitsch old-fashioned way of increasing the drama
(however possibly deliberately cheap sounding pisstake of knights, darkness and silent-movie drama blackness)
(2) i've heard the old invocation of Spanish inquisition/ civil war done by Charlie Haden who got the idea off Mingus "Black Saint .." -- i've heard the Spanish overtones plundered better by others, whereas this sounds euro-cheap (cf: the high quality orchestrations on the rest of the album, the 'standards' of the rest)
(possibly ironic, meant as over-the-top, obvious Hammer Horror sound effects, to emphasise translucent fake-intellectual vagueness)
(3) lyrically, it hold together only as silly melodrama with a deliberate "intelligensia-oriented" arcane film reference, re-doubling as "pseudo-intelectual" by virtue of the "game of chess" set of moves amoungst players like "death" and "the knight"
(only plausible as tounge-in-cheek melodrama, like a silent movie starring Rudolph Vanlentino)

yeah, i see the song as fake pseudo-intellectual self-mocking, a cardboard-cut-out set and deep and dark like bad Nick Cave (too deep and too dark to be anything other than bad melodrama)

why single it out ? let's face it, on this album, it's the odd song out. Scott's stuck it first on the record like he's laughing at his then image of over-serious deep (voiced) non-pop-music (therefore "intellectual") bore, and gets the song out of the way early.

the rest of the record has chilling orchestrations, vagueness that cannot be resolved or explained away as a chess game when it isn't. the first song is inconsistent in so many ways with the rest of the album that its placement first seems deliberate. let's face it, it would have been the pick for the 'single' or 'charts' if they wanted a song with such consistent middle-brow crooning (in stark contrast to the balanced patent bitter-sweet beauty of the rest of the album, musically & lyically)

this song is comedy. I always wonered why this silly knight, having just visited a village plague-ridden and burned to the ground, helpfully brings the spores of the plague to the next village so as to have it out in the confession box, only to be let down by god and bump into death again. like the comic side of Dostoevsky or a character from Kafka.

and they all end-up unhappily in the forest at midnight, like some good Nick Cave song ("Deep in the Woods"), only to have a slapstick ending thrown on and the song wrapped up quickly and inconclusively (somewhat less satisfyingly than the similarly slapstick end to (another film) "The Draftman's Contract")

i guess it's glib humour and Hollywood-brow earnestness, and as a joke before the serious consistent business of the rest of the album, it ain't bad. Yet that is th only way i can be bothered with the song -- as a deliberately corny joke about the new non-pop pseudo-intellectual Scott -- i usually skip it simply for it's pantomine sound, and then i do feel like i'm getting down with Scott for the rest of the album, even if i am left bewildered by lyrics, bedazzled by voice/orchestra.

I do wonder if he meant it that way. Discussions of Scott with some local friends have evidenced little levity with respect to this song (cf "yeah, i saw the film" .. so what !)

well, I think it's a joke, one way or the other.

george gosset (gegoss), Tuesday, 17 February 2004 09:11 (thirteen years ago) Permalink

The other too-literal song on the album is 'Hero Of The War'

Jonathan Z. (Joanthan Z.), Tuesday, 17 February 2004 09:24 (thirteen years ago) Permalink

wow george right on

i sometimes try to rationalize the song as a kind of self-parody but for all his achievements in that era (and more recently) i wonder how capable of that scott really is. it's sort of telling to me that he chose that bergman film to 'adopt' anyhow--the film has all the faults you associate with the song, it's basically a simple little narrative with a variety of facile metaphors and 'symbols' tossed in with chiascuro lighting effects and lots of grand speeches. once upon a time, a lot of people took this as the summit of film art (i don't think it's really given much thought now), and i sort of wonder whether scott wasn't one of those bedsit dreamer types rather than someone capable of parodying just that.

amateur!st (amateurist), Tuesday, 17 February 2004 11:04 (thirteen years ago) Permalink

i think hero of the war gains something in its bluntness, but yeah it is impossibly self-righteous

these records belong so much to their era, they're inextricable from it really--that's not a criticism, but however i think those two songs do evidence two of the more shallow aspects of a certain intellectual youth culture of the time

amateur!st (amateurist), Tuesday, 17 February 2004 11:05 (thirteen years ago) Permalink

also his pasolini obsession gives me pause, if only because like bergman's films i find pasolini's films more illustrations of ideas (which unlike in bergman's films are sometimes compelling in themselves, if not always very well thought through) than films that are really alive *as* films

amateur!st (amateurist), Tuesday, 17 February 2004 11:07 (thirteen years ago) Permalink

of course he could be a fan of pasolini's *poetry*

amateur!st (amateurist), Tuesday, 17 February 2004 11:08 (thirteen years ago) Permalink

i should say bergman's *film*--there are other bergman films i find more rewarding

amateur!st (amateurist), Tuesday, 17 February 2004 11:08 (thirteen years ago) Permalink

Re Pasolini: I read an interview with Scott Walker in which he said he wasn't particularly interested in Pasolini's films but more in the way he died. Of course, that might be a bit of a smokescreen answer, since in the song there's mention of his favourite actor Ninetto Davoli, and the line "Hey Ninetto remember that dream" recalls the last line of the Decameron, which starred Davoli and Pasolini himself. Although more generally, the song spins away from Pasolini and serves as a kind of introduction to all the themes of Tilt

Jonathan Z. (Joanthan Z.), Tuesday, 17 February 2004 11:46 (thirteen years ago) Permalink

George's analysis of The Seventh Seal is appealing but I don't think it's right. If you've ever seen Scott Walker interviewed in the 60s he comes across as this impossibly earnest pretentious hipster type. Doing a pastiche of your favourite movie as a song or a short story or something is exactly what you'd expect from a 25-year-old intellectually-inclined guy in the late 60s. It's asking too much for him to be knowing about his pretensions as well.

Jonathan Z. (Joanthan Z.), Tuesday, 17 February 2004 11:54 (thirteen years ago) Permalink

if only because like bergman's films i find pasolini's films more illustrations of ideas
yes, i have to admit that it is that vague melting of words and music into ideas that i like about Scott, and i don't always know what he's on about, but it's the sum-of-the-parts with him for me, .. a very musical way with words, noises and orchestras (like the "mmm mmm mmm, mmm mmm mmm" of "ashes", wordless vocal noises that still just do not sound anythin other than raw emotion not deserving of the by then pidgeon-holing term "crooner").
"Attempts at new ideas in the male vocalist song role" is my graded bumper sticker for Scott Walker "1" through to "til the band comes in".

ok his dedication to Kruschev is obvious, and you're right, again it _is_ very much of the times (a real bad cynic would say it's a cash-in on another summer of love gone horribly wrong, if one really thought about marketing, but to me a sincere "protest song" nicely coming correctly from right-field) (plus) a meditation on "springtime", but viewed paradoxically. I _do_ like the way this song positively excels in country western cowboy cliche. The story/words are so simple and direct. Makes me think of John Wayne and the Cavalry not coming to the rescue. Milosevich. George W Bush.

Scott _does_ generally come across in all the exposures we get as a dreamy kind of guy i agree (with the lyrics just seemingly the start of biographical puzzle if they're not so disembodied from him as to be really rather useless except as indicative of his then intent) -- he's got to be the role model for david bowie's messy-cum-meaningful lyrics, and bowie made good on at least half his '70s output seemingly saying something to lots of people (exceptions like Ziggy are beyond my understanding of glam and too simple to even be slightly creepily OTM except re: audience-hysteria) -- they've both got a way with tunes and musical collaborators that i think is exceptionally musically gifted -- i suppose musicians have to be poets to be songwriters, which has got to be hard.

i think hero of the war gains something in its bluntness, but yeah it is impossibly self-righteous
well someone had to sing about peace and stuff right then i suppose, a baby-boomer at that, part of his back-turn on "pop", or better, let's use "pop music" norms to _really_ say something -- i like the way the song sounds stuck in its own funereal pomp actually, a far cry from the catchy "it's all over for the unknown soldier", however well-intended that song was

try to rationalize the song as a kind of self-parody but for all his achievements in that era (and more recently) i wonder how capable of that scott really is
tragedy, lonliness, the spaces between all the beautiful monumental architecture of Europe where the people were meant to be singing happily -- yeah, he's a culture-vulture and i suppose it comes out all blurred or maybe an idea gets followed through or copied and doesn't sound so good afterwards (like "seventh seal") -- the original idealist with cred., even with the blurry poetry

i'd love to believe Scott was sincere and maybe yes a 20something child of the revolution and maybe guilty over that bullshit of the Walkers' US invasion ever since. Reverting to Engel of all names, he's trying to be honest about the parodoxical tragedy of so many US and European people during those times.

permanent beauty vs. fleeting pleasure/beauty, that bittersweet thing. All his songs set out to turn pop norms on their heads and say something profound and poetic even if as small a subject as an ageing duchess. I agree he's dreamy, seemingly organised but vague but i guess that is what it felt like back then. Confusing unsettling times for all, yet with pop music spitting out "feel good" all the time. I admire his honesty and how he ultimately stuck to his guns.

I approach it often as music with nice well-meant words -- a male voice i can actually enjoy as noise, with the words these days just providing clues or dedications for the 'songs', a bit like bowie's, except bowie was a crafty cynic as well as a sometimes good commentator who spread as many good songs over far more albums with lots of filler. Scott comes out more focused, so much more intense, like he eventually overcome himself with his feelings, knocked himself out. I presume the later '70s and '80s were Scott's psychic implode and recovery, just like bowie's coming back to life now. Certainly in the '70s, i think bowie took scott's ball and ran with it, with careful extra airbrushing (or eyeliner) for the larger public. I think the results could have been worse.

george gosset (gegoss), Tuesday, 17 February 2004 12:43 (thirteen years ago) Permalink

I think you're right about Bowie. Scott Walker was clearly a model for Bowie, he took the intellectualising and fragmented poetry and applied it to rock just as Walker had applied it to orchestral pop. Bowie's Brel songs must have been done after hearing Walker, not Brel. And to me, the Nite Flights songs have a very similar feel to "Heroes" (the album) as well - not sure which came first though.

Jonathan Z. (Joanthan Z.), Tuesday, 17 February 2004 12:57 (thirteen years ago) Permalink

Bowie's been open about the Scott Walker love for decades, wisely so. Arguably he was a lodestone for Bowie no matter how often the latter's career was seen to be shifting.

Ned Raggett (Ned), Tuesday, 17 February 2004 14:16 (thirteen years ago) Permalink

ok, well i still think he knew "seventh seal" was the worst idea, or the least subtle song.
Maybe he thought it had more crossover appeal with it's seemingly engineered elements of ante and maybe it was an earlier model of the wild west narrative, like a walker brothers americanism deployed again on the english. But maybe that's too cynical too.
Maybe he just knew a ripping yarn didn't match the intense heart of the album, but maybe said yarn is meant to draw the listener in

and ok yes, maybe he did want a bergman dedication/ allusion.

I think, for whatever reason, it belongs (out of the way) as the first track, although it probably doesn't belong at all for many, and yeah ok, i agree, he _probably_ _was_ a completely a young idealist.

thank goodness Ady Semel was there to at least help the seemingly drained Scott produce at least a few more good songs (and david bowie! to try carrying the torch -- maybe he should cover more Scott songs and help out with the royalties somemore)

george gosset (gegoss), Tuesday, 17 February 2004 14:43 (thirteen years ago) Permalink

i've only heard the four scott songs on nite flights, and they are disturbing and intense, my favourite stuff of his after ".. band comes in" -- how do the efforts of the other two Walkers on nite flights stack up against this stuff ?

The John Walker songs are just abysmal from memory but some of the Gary Walker songs are quite interesting - if only he could sing but he most certainly can't.

Dadaismus (Dada), Tuesday, 17 February 2004 14:59 (thirteen years ago) Permalink

I whimsically bought re-issued Walker Bros. "Images" out of interest in the Engel contributions, including some b-sides. These early Scott songs could certainly be called "experiments" that might belong on a Scott mix-cd along with his originals from 1 & 2.

The cd booklet contained an image of Bowie's "War Child" charity art piece from '97, where ".. famous celebrities .. all homages to .. other musicians .. they considered to be a big influence on their work".
This art consisted of a lightbox containing 3 x-rayed skulls and six eyes (a curious Residents coincidence). There are two side-view skulls on the two sides of this box and one forward facing central skull, presumably Skott, the brains of the operation.
The eyes mystify me. OK we all know about David's special eye, but was the Walkers' invasion of Britain really in part due to tricky eyes ? It seemed a rather self-aggrandizing feature from Bowie's art otherwise, epecially as of all things Walker to leave out it left out their ears.

george gosset (gegoss), Thursday, 19 February 2004 05:38 (thirteen years ago) Permalink

oh, another post reminded me of this other influence (that horrible word)
maybe problems people have with "the seventh seal" simply boil down to it sounding too much like a benny hill song

george gosset (gegoss), Thursday, 19 February 2004 05:53 (thirteen years ago) Permalink

one year passes...


by a mile.

piscesboy, Wednesday, 2 November 2005 14:20 (twelve years ago) Permalink

4 is definitely the best for me, I really love "On Your Own Again" and "Boy Child", but I've become really fond of 3 over the past year, you gotta love "It's Raining Today" and "Big Louise"

Jimmy James Inc, Wednesday, 2 November 2005 21:42 (twelve years ago) Permalink

3. Even though the best parts of 1 and 2 is a better album.

Alex in SF (Alex in SF), Wednesday, 2 November 2005 21:53 (twelve years ago) Permalink

six years pass...

lol 'The Amorous Humphrey Plugg' just popped up on random play

'scuse me, while I Rim the Sky... (snoball), Thursday, 3 May 2012 20:00 (five years ago) Permalink

Oh man, it's all I can do not to play Scott's stuff day after day after day...

Gerald McBoing-Boing, Thursday, 3 May 2012 22:12 (five years ago) Permalink

Thanks to facebook, I only JUST learned about the song The Plague. Can you imagine, having known Scott's 1 - 4 (and side A of 'Til the Band) by heart and obsessing for years and suddenly learning there was another song? I don't know how I missed it.

dan selzer, Friday, 4 May 2012 03:55 (five years ago) Permalink

...containing the immortal couplet "It's all so vague/When you meet the plague".

hugo_w, Friday, 4 May 2012 05:54 (five years ago) Permalink

That's awesome, Dan! I'm jealous! It was there from the beginning for me as my first Scott purchase was the Boy Child compilation.

(In a bookend kind of way, I assume you know about his track on 4AD's Plague Songs comp?)

This is a pretty great Scott thread that I've never noticed before. My answer is, resoundingly, Scott 3. Wally Stott ftw.

bit.ly sno cone maker (Jon Lewis), Friday, 4 May 2012 15:24 (five years ago) Permalink

The Plague is the first Scott Walker solo song I heard, it got me hooked.

Respectfully, Tyrese Gibson (Nicole), Friday, 4 May 2012 16:16 (five years ago) Permalink

interesting timing for the thread revival as i was thinking about this the other day and concluded that Scott 3 is probably top 5 of all time for me. Scott 4 is a bit too cavalier for me in parts, whereas Scott 2 doesn't quite connect with me the whole way through. Scott 3 has the perfect balance of introspection and storytelling and is capable of moving me in unique ways.

charlie h, Saturday, 5 May 2012 05:34 (five years ago) Permalink


dan selzer, Saturday, 5 May 2012 07:28 (five years ago) Permalink

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