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Scott Walker

  • Scott,
  • Scott 2,
  • Scott 3,
  • Scott 4,
  • Til The Band Comes In,
  • The Moviegoer,
  • Climate Of Hunter,
  • Tilt,
  • Pola X,
  • The Drift,
  • Bish Bosch,

  • Album Reviews |

    Scott Walker

    Scott 8 ( 1967, UK pos 3 )
    Mathilde / Montague Terrace (in blue) / Angelica / Lady came from Baltimore / When Joanna loved me / My death / Big hurt / Such a small love / You're gonna hear from me / Through a long and sleepless night / Always coming back to you / Amsterdam

    Jacques Brel was virtually unknown in England until American born singer Scott Walker, formerly of hit making 'The Walker Brothers' launched into his solo career. Often too easily dismissed for its heavy intellectual content, Scott's solo career always contains carefully produced musical tracks full of inspiration, some of the best vocals anybody will ever hear ( says me! thatís all! ) and great orchestration. The opener Brel cover here is up-tempo, full of noise and fun. 'Montague Terrace' is a simply stunning composition and when Scott launches into the chorus parts you can sit back ( or be pinned back! ) by his voice and just wallow in the wonder of it all. The lyrics are fairly obscure, certainly no 'The Sun Aint Gonna Shine Anymore' here. Still, it is a wonderful song. The orchestral parts led by Wally Stott ( who later changed from male to female and lived as a woman ) are accomplished, suit the melody and are performed with flair. 'Angelica' is another cover but Scott could sing almost anything with that deep, deep melancholy beautiful voice and make it sound like heaven. The production is superb, the quality of the recordings to rival a Spector and the orchestrations full and appropriate. I enjoy this song a great deal. 'Lady Came From Baltimore' is a short country tinged cover leading into the soaring though slightly mawkish ballad 'When Joanna Love Me'. The superbly dark Brel song 'My Death' follows. Deadly intelligent lyrics and of course, a doomy atmosphere. This is a thoughtful song with a haunting melody that I for one can listen to over and over again. 'The Big Hurt' isn't a highlight here but the orchestrations and string parts completely rescue this. Well, Scott sings well, of course!

    The songs continue, ballads mostly but with up-tempo moments provided for variety. This was Scott Walkers first solo album and his first with an amount of true independence. A highlight arrives towards the end with the truly intriguing Scott song 'Always Coming Back To You'. Wonderful string parts and swoon-some vocals, it makes me cry every time. 'Amsterdam' proves a strange dark closer to the album, an album let down by a couple of the covers, let down a little by not having enough original songs - but this is a good album, with great vocals and orchestrations featured throughout.

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    Readers Comments

    geoff whitcher geoff.whitcher@tiscali.co.uk
    'Montague Terrace', the most hauntingly beautiful of arrangements - i will never tire of the words and music of this wonderful song

    Annea annie@msn.com
    I was 16 in 1967. Looking back now I wonder at the lyrics, still so ageless today. His voice is exquisite and just today brought tears to my eyes. As an original Walker Brothers fan I remember being truly devastated when they split. When 'Scott' came out I rushed to buy it, playing it secretly at first because my parents would not approve! Then every night I had to have my fix of him. Some how over the years I have lost his albums [along with those of the Walker Brothers]. Having found his albums recently on the net it took my breath away to hear his voice again.

    Jean Grime davejeangrime@btinternet.com
    1965 i was one of a crowd at Oldham night club. Only 16. I held scotts hand when they dragged him off stage. Still haunted by his voice he should have been one of the greatest. what happenned to him.

    gazza garyhess44@hotmail.com
    scotts vocal talent was considerable but i find a lot of his solo stuff really hard to get through. He took that precious sarte reading "auteur" thing way too far in my opinion . The 1st one is the most effective , the choice of covers perfect and such a small love , montague terrace and always coming back to you are his strongest compositions. But i dont reach for this one often, its not bad to wallow in for a bit but a lot of the arrangements have me reaching for the sickbag. You feel a bit of a tosser listening to these albums at times, scotts solo work feels like the music critics send people scurrying to shops for via greatest album polls and then they pretend to like it. Compare to the similar stature of nick drake - except drakes records can be listened to and admired at any time and dont sound as dated and timetrapped as walkers.

    top of page Scott 2 8 ( 1968, UK pos 1 )
    Jackie / Best of both worlds / Black sheep boy / Amorous Humphrey Plugg / Next / Girls from the streets / Plastic palace people / Wait until dark / Girls and the dogs / Windows of the world / The Bridge / Come next Spring

    Scott's second solo album is structured in a similar fashion to his first, the same mix of covers with a smattering of original Scott songs featured. The Scott originals are better than before, more Jacques Brel covers are here. And, uh, some other songs as well. 'Jackie' gets things off to a fine start - a much covered song but it's important to remember Scott got there first. As far as Iím aware Scott 'popularised' Jacques Brel in countries that weren't France. I don't know what Jacques Brel thought of Scott, does anybody know? Anyways, 'Best Of Both Worlds' has great stormy orchestration breaking out into beautiful classical parts and a faultless ballad vocals from Scott. 'Black Sheep Boy' is a Scott country tinged number, enjoyable enough but not substantial. The mix of lighter and darker material isn't always so seamless. The Scott songs and the Brel songs are so different in nature to the likes of 'Black Sheep Boy', however well Scott sings 'Black Sheep Boy' that it disrupts the flow of the record. Scott's own  'Amorous Humphrey Plugg' is a highlight and amply provides evidence of Scott's growing talent as a songwriter. The strings are well done and the song atmospheric with intriguing lyrics. 'The Girls From The Streets' is another Scott composition - a strong Brel influence is obvious considering the lyrical style. This lyrical influence had been developing over a few years, but Brel also influences the music of 'Girls From The Streets', giving it a long singular musical flow. This style of music isn't as easy to enjoy, and seems designed to give greater import to the lyrical matter. 

    The second half of the record merely repeats the pattern of the first half. We get more covers, a decent Scott song in 'The Bridge' which makes no sense to me literally, but sounds very beautiful musically. 'Plastic Palace People' is the stand-out of the set, a shining jewel. It's a novel in song, or a movie in song - the lyrics place images in your mind. The vocals and orchestrations are glorious and imaginative.  'Plastic Palace People' raises the standards to bring 'Scott 2' to being a match for 'Scott 1'. The original songs are better, the non brel covers less interesting. Covers such as 'Come Next Spring' are the types of song Scott would soon drop from his albums, although continue to perform during TV and live performances. There were two sides to Scott, one a left-over from The Walker Brothers days. His management wanted him to sing easy listening popular standards. Scott wanted to write his own Brel influenced material, and develop his own writing in other ways. It was a balancing act. Record a single that charts, do a tour of the clubs - and then we'll let you write some songs.

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    Readers Comments

    Mike Harrison fughedaboudit455@yahoo.com
    Only Scott Walker could sing a song with lyrics like "in a stupid ass way" and make it sound like high art! Scott's vocals are more assured here, which is not to say they necessarily weren't on SCOTT or the Walker Brothers material. The vocals are more operatic, at least. Scott's lyrics seem more confident, and the choice of Jacques Brel material proves that Scott was willing to CHALLENGE the listener, rather than sleepwalk through a bunch of ballads.....at least until the early 1970s.

    darran mc crann invisiblest@yahoo.com
    'black sheep boy' is a tim hardin cover. one of his short and simple songs about love. scott copies Hardin by calling his albums 1,2,3 & 4. It's not the strongest track, but I don't think it tries to be.

    jane mandyicebreaker@hotmail.com
    I just found this site and wanted to say thank you for reminding me of some of the wonderful tracks I have overlooked. Some of my favourites include Next, Joanna, and Mathilda

    Steve London
    On the contrary, Black Sheep Boy is indeed a dark song as it's about a guy returning home to his family to rehab from heroin. Given what later happened to Hardin, it's quite a haunting track.

    top of page Scott 3 ( 1969, UK pos 3 )
    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

    Ten Scott walker originals with three Brel covers to finish, and this is a nice way to structure the album. The Brel covers are all accomplished and Scott's own songs are a step forwards in sophistication still from his earlier efforts. Speaking of the Brel tunes, though - 'Sons Of' opens with beautiful ghostly piano and moves through many interesting orchestral sections. 'Funeral Tango' is funny and bizarre listening with Scott gamely providing the French laughs vocally that the song demands! 'If You Go Away' is a brilliant soaring ballad with a dark, sad undercurrent mixed in with romance and all sorts of other things. It's a striking song and a superlative and beautiful performance. I've heard a few versions of this song, but none come close to Scott's performance here. 'It's Raining Today' opens the album and creates a good half of its atmosphere through the clever orchestration. 'Copenhagen' has enjoyable melodies rising, falling - sprinkled with strings and percussive effects. The orchestration again impresses on 'Rosemary' and when the song goes off into its middle section provides an especially effective backdrop for yet more great singing and brilliantly poetic mysterious lyrics. 'We Came Through' is a little marching type song, 'Butterfly' a short orchestrated beauty and '30th Century Man' is just Scott and strummed acoustic guitar. Sonically it provides variety.

    The absolute highlight of the album is the devastatingly romantic 'Big Louise'. Often my favourite Scott Walker song, everything comes together. A beautiful lyric and that voice soaring over appropriate and beautifully arranged orchestration. It brings a tear to my eye and it fills the room. That voice, so full of depth and feeling....simply glorious lyrics. His finest song at this stage? I'd say so. His finest album at this stage too, but only the first he would release in 1969.

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    top of page Scott 4 ( 1969 )
    The Seventh seal / On your own again / World's strongest man / Angels of ashes / Boy child / Hero of the war / Old man's back again (dedicated to the neo Stalinist regime) / Duchess / Get behind me / Rhymes of goodbye

    Ok, so i'm not sure. Well. What is this? Is it rock? Hardly. Is it pop? Well, no. It didn't chart upon release. At all. Released under the name Noel Scott Engel ( his real name ) it received minimal promotion and was soon deleted. What is it? I don't know! Quite simply it's the best record he ever put out and one of the best records anybody has ever put out. A quantum leap in artistic terms for Scott, every song a winner. That it didn't sell.... well, it's no surprise he never came close to replicating this ever again. 'The Seventh Seal' sets the tone with its tale of playing chess with Death. Good bass rhythm on this track. Heavenly backing vocals that sound like angels. Scott's voice soaring above it all and a string section, trumpets. The thing is, it doesn't sound at all cluttered. Everything plays its part perfectly. 'On Your Own Again' is lovely! A booming, beautiful vocal. A song thats 90 seconds long in total. Romantic orchestration. Nice unobtrusive guitar parts. It makes me cry for some reason and what's this? 'Angels Of Ashes' features the voice of Scott caressing "the angels of ashes will give back your passion, again and again...." - the voice soars through the air and the humming parts raise more than just a smile. Romance and passion, humour too! Humour? Well, it's odd listening. It's so out of time, out of fashion. At any time in musical history. Well, it's timeless, I suppose. 'Boy Child' is a world all of its own. Special orchestration and a wonderful crooning vocal. Really, there is no other voice quite like this, and Scott's voice as well as his writing was arguably at it's strongest all through 'Scott 4'.

    'Hero Of The War' raises the tempo following 'Boy Child', and whilst this song is nothing wonderfully artistic or brilliant, it fits the record and is beautifully sung and recorded. 'Old Mans Back Again' features a very funky bass rhythm with the strings adding dramatic atmosphere over the top. The vocal is peerless, what more can I say? Two more wonderful top-quality ballads 'Duchess' and 'Rhymes Of Goodbye' appear towards the close of the album either side of the more up-tempo 'Get Behind Me', which although not the best song here, is strong rhythmically and again, beautifully sang. 'Scott 4' comprises ten Scott Walker ( Engel ) compositions, the first of his albums not to feature a single cover song. It's a wonderful record all in all, and the finest Scott Walker anyone can buy.

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    Readers Comments

    garyt garyt@gazzat.gioserve.com
    loved your scott walker reviews page.i have to agree with scott 4.this is a work of genius,and as a keen music fan with over 1100 cd,s this is without a doubt the one cd i would save if the house was on fire.angels of ashes has to be the greatest song of all time.best wishes,gary turner.

    Gordon Dent gordon.dent@nietzsche.net
    Adrian, "The Seventh Seal" isn't just a tale of playing chess with death: there's a reason behind the game. You need to watch Ingmar Bergman's movie, "The Seventh Seal" (1957).

    Andrew Barker a3barker@ccn.ac.uk
    Can you imagine a modern pop star writing a song recounting an intellectual film about death? Scott 4 is a towering piece of work and was a Godalmighty flop...the 60s lacked as much taste as we do today..this should be in everyhome in the land...and to think how many record Robbie Wiliams has sold!!

    Paulo Guimaraes paulocel@hotmail.com
    Genius Genius ...it took me thousand years to discover this album. Shame to the musical industry and all the so called critics.

    larry lawrencesilver45@yahoo.co.uk
    9 and a half? Didn't like the paper the sleeve was printed on? What was it, what was it?!

    Mike Harrison cathairball5000@yahoo.com
    Easy 10. "Angels of Ashes" is one of the greatest songs ever. How many singer-songwriters back then were writing something as classy AND ominous as "The Old Man's Back Again?" I don't think ANYONE has managed to match what Scott Walker did on this album because few singer-songwriters were willing to mix the beautiful AND the foreboding.....Scott achieved that here, and it's a hard act to follow. No doubt about it, he's an original.

    Jacek jacekmichalko@aim.com
    Great, really moving album [10/10]. His voice and style of singing is quite influential, dontcha think? His voice reminds me Nick Cave, D.Sylvian etc. But i like him the most. I`m just waiting for `the Drift` from...whoosh!...4AD. Regards from Poland.

    For me a little scott goes a long way so the 32 mins here is pretty much a perfect way to listen to him . Where else would you get such amazingly orchestrated and sung meditations on death,dictatorships,isolation and lost love ?? Scotts lyrics are also deeply enigmatic and abstract. "boy-child" is one of my favourite walker moments , so hard to pinpoint its emotional power but it does exists . "worlds strongest man" is also another classic piece of orchestral pop and Even the country tinged stuff works really well so a resounding 9/10 from me .

    Dr R G Eli Martha's Vineyard, USA
    Denning: agreed. it is the best work he ever did. Would that he had kept it that way. How influential are you in Waterperry?

    top of page Til The Band Comes In 7 ( 1970 )
    Prologue / Little Things / Joe / Thanks for Chicago Mr. James / Long About Now / Time Operator / Jean the Machine / Cowbells Shakin' / 'Til the Band Comes In / The War Is Over (Epilogue) / Stormy / The Hills of Yesterday / Reuben James / What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life? / It's Over

    A short orchestrated instrumental opener leads into the up-tempo 'Little Things'. Trouble is, it seems a little half hearted compared to the carefully crafted masterpieces of 'Scott 4'. The lack of sales brought by 'Scott 4' had certainly dented Scott's confidence but he gave it one last shot with this album's recording. Ten originals that work pretty well and then five easy listening covers tacked clumsily onto the end. Firstly however we have the likes of 'Joe'. It sounds like it came from 'Scott 2' and proves to be a quality ballad. 'Thanks For Chicago Mr James' sounds like a 'Walker Brothers' song. A most pleasant surprise! A bid for chart glory but for the record company not even bothering to issue it as such at all. It would have made a great single. The little harmony parts. A great Scott vocal. Imaginative orchestration amid an up-tempo musical backing - a good song all round. 'Time Operator' is a little strange but serves to further the albums overall atmosphere and is much helped by subtle orchestration. 'Jean The Machine' is simple but fun and 'Cowbells Shakin' a short little country number but it's fun. 'War Is Over' is classic Scott Walker in the style of the first four albums, utterly beautiful orchestration and Scott sings this very well. As soon as 'Stormy', the first cover kicks in, you wish the album had stopped with the marvellous 'War Is Over' which would have made a logical album closer. The ten Scott Walker compositions here, if an album on their own, wouldn't match 'Scott 4' or 'Scott 3'  as far as i'm concerned, but wouldn't have been far behind 'Scott 3' and would certainly have been a match for either of the first two albums. Pause to catch breath. I hope you got all of that down. Right.....

    Actually, none of these final five covers are terrible. All are professionally performed and benefit from Scott's accomplished vocals. They do lack a little imagination however, don't sound like the sort of songs Scott would have chosen to sing himself, and don't make the slightest bit of sense tacked onto the end of ten original compositions which they have absolutely nothing in common with. The effect is rather akin to a nineties CD re-issue of a Sixties album, with bonus tracks consisting of studio out-takes and cover versions ran through as warm up's before the group tackled the 'real' material. For example, the cheesy 'Hills Of Yesterday' and the dirge of 'What Are You Doing The Rest Of Your Life' are really bad offenders, songs with little to recommend about them and Scott appears to be going through the motions - although his vocals still sound fine. The closing 'It's Over' is pretty decent with good little guitar parts and Scott does sound more engaged with the material. Ignoring the five covers here ( which I usually do ) - no one was to know in 1970 that they'd heard the last original Scott Walker songs for some six/seven years, but that they had. Bad decisions were made, record companies were changed. Albums released consisting entirely of sappy cover versions before The Walker Brothers reunited, had a hit, then fell apart again. Even that wasn't the last we'd hear from Scott, though. <

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    Dr R G Eli Martha's Vineyard, USA
    Denning: "What Are You Doing "..is a dirge to you? So where exacly did you study poetic form? (and content)....thisis the best interpretation of an excellent Bergman-LeGrand-Bergman song...

    top of page The Moviegoer 7 ( 1972 )
    This Way Mary / Speak Softly Love / Glory Road / That Night / The Summer Knows / The Ballad Of Sacco And Vanzet / A Face In The Crowd / Joe Hill / Loss Of Love / All His Children / Come Saturday Morning / Easy Come Easy Go

    'The Moviegoer' is a Scott Walker album with a particularly low reputation, even with Scott Walker himself. I'm not exactly sure why, though. Sure, he'd abandoned writing original songs in an effort to sell records again, and choose more 'middle of the road' material to sing. The title of the album gives away the concept for this one, Scott choosing some of his favourite songs from a variety of films. He sings, and that's always good. Scott still had a glorious voice in 1972 and all of these songs are very much in the vein of similar cover material that peppered his first two solo albums. There is a richness to some of the arrangements too, largely absent from the cover material present on 'Til The Band Comes In', a lushness and beauty to the string sounds. The highlights from 'The Moviegoer' sit nicely alongside the first five solo records. Let's take the wonder of 'Glory Road', for example. There's a song to download if you're unsure whether tracking down the largely unavailable 'The Moviegoer' is likely to be worth the effort. Scott does a 'dum de da' vocal section in 'Glory Road'. He sings backing vocals over himself, layered vocals that show, contrary to popular opinion, he did care at least a little about some of the recording that took place during 'The Moviegoer' sessions. Another highlight from this 'Moviegoer' album is the very first tune, another lovely ballad with soothing and beautiful strings and a rich, awe-inspiring Scott Walker vocal of the very highest quality. My third pick from this set of recordings is the country-tinged 'Joe Hill'. Indeed, the soft country flavour of the likes of 'Joe Hill' may well have persuaded Scott to go full-out country, of sorts, on a certain later album or two. Then again, wasn't 'Black Sheep Boy' from 'Scott 2' country? It was a cover-tune as well. The very fact Scott did covers and didn't do 'arty' tunes by Brel or some other guy like Brel after 1969 doesn't particularly mean this period in his recording career should be avoided and doesn't also have it's share of gems.

    The second half of 'The Moviegoer' is an exercise in ballad singing of a quality and richness few other vocalists have been ever able to match. Scott was very nearly peerless in the quality of his vocals. Yes, even in 1972, a time we've been led to believe in which he was totally rubbish. The closing tune 'Easy Come Easy Go' is a beautifully recorded and impeccably arranged jazz ballad, 'The Ballad Of Sacco And Vanzet' is suitably dark. Several of the songs inbetween the two aforementioned are admittedly weak, although overall, i'd rate 'The Moviegoer' the equal of the more lauded likes of 'Til The Band Comes In' and 'Tilt'. In summary, then? Well, apart from wanting to start a petition to ensure a wide-spread CD re-issue of 'The Moviegoer', I simply recommend you try and get hold of a copy. It's well worth a punt if you're a fan and correctly manage your own expectations.

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    top of page Climate Of Hunter 8 ( 1984 )
    Rawhide / Dealer / Track Three / Sleepwalkers Woman / Track Five / Track Six / Track Seven / Blanket Roll Blues

    Scott took six years to deliver an album after the acclaim heaped upon him following his contributions to the final Walker Brothers album 'Nite Flights'. That particular record had included four new Scott Walker originals, his first for some eight years at that time. They were startlingly unnerving and original. Brian Eno and David Bowie both started to name drop Scott and suddenly he went from washed up sixties crooner to being one of the hippest names around. 'Climate Of Hunter' arriving some six years after those four songs on 'Nite Flights' negated any commercial benefit he may have received had he recorded a follow-up just a couple of years sooner. Still, 'Climate Of Hunter'. had Scott fans semi-rejoicing, even if very few of them actually bought the album. One odd thing, four of the songs have no titles. One song is a cover version but it all sounds good. No traces of easy listening here at all, by the way. The strings go off at obtuse angles. The rhythm section performances are strong, especially the funky bass lines. Scott's voice booms out, sounding as rich as ever. This is especially noticeable on the opener 'Rawhide'.

    Highlights include the old style Scott ballad 'Sleepwalkers Woman', a beautiful performance. 'Track 3' was released as a single - a bouncy, uptempo number. If the second side doesn't quite match the first, final track 'Blanket Roll Blues' certainly does. Mark Knopfler add's bluesy acoustic guitar. No other musical backing is provided. Scott opens his mouth and the sound fills the room. A voice big enough to fill a hall. Not a loud voice. Not a shouting kind of singing voice. He sings, softly actually. The tone is so deep and crystal clear and very resonating. A good comeback album, all in all, although no, it didn't sell. 'Climate Of Hunter' was reputed to be the worst selling album ever on Virgin Records. Not true as it happens, this did chart after all albeit  in modest fashion. Still, ignoring sales, artistically this record proved Scott alive and well, even if he wasn't exactly prolific anymore.

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    Helen helenmyers4@hotmail.com
    A website dedicated to Scott, what a find! I was just soooo in love with him when I was a teenager and used to sit and cry with angst. I bought Climate of the Hunter years later and was really disappointed - it seems he had totally lost the plot. So sad after some of the innovative and creative work that he did. Does anyone know what and where is he at.

    top of page Tilt ( 1995, UK pos 27 )
    Farmer in the City / The Cockfighter / Bouncer See Bouncer / Manhattan / Face on Breast / Bolivia '95 / Patriot (A Single) / Tilt / Rosary

    A further 11 year wait produces this. I remember being thrilled at finally being able to buy a brand new Scott Walker album. I wasn't disappointed with the opening song 'Farmer In The City', either. That voice of his still booms out, although now with a much smaller range. It's like that all over the album actually, although his voice does still sound pretty great. 'Farmer In The City' is one of those Scott songs with added strings. Unlike his material in the past however this time we have strings added to lyrics that make no sense at all! They sound great, really poetic. Scott does all sorts of 'me-e e so o eee so oo' vocal parts too. Second song 'The Cockfighter' displays an extremely unlikely nine inch nails influence. It's not all that much of a song, but it sounds great, if that makes any sense at all. The lyrics don't. Make sense I mean. The structure of the song is challenging, great bursts of noise going off into quiet sung sections. Very quiet and minimal backing in those sections. It sounds like no other music on earth, actually. I think that's why I like it. 'Bouncer See Bouncer' is nearly nine minutes long and completes a strong opening to the record. A slow, quiet, atmospheric build up to open. Pounding tribal drums enter. A little shaking snake type noise. Scott opens his mouth and sings and later on the strings enter for a quite beautiful passage of music. Final song of the first half, 'Manhattan', is far less enjoyable. Great booming keyboards overly dominate and his voice sounds strained here.

    'Face On Breast' is all beating drums and percussion and lacks a little in the melody department. Scott turns in a ok performance, but it's really not a very exciting or melodic musical track.  'Bolvia 95' is a step even further with experimentation at expense of melody. The opening songs on the album managed to achieve both pretty well. Here, it becomes tough going through this middle section of the record particularly, and the songs aren't short songs either, each being five / six / seven minutes long.  'Patriot' is subtitled 'a single' ( which it wasn't ) and lasts for eight and a half minutes. It switches between gorgeous strings, washes of keyboards, deep deep bass notes. This is ok, I get enjoyment from 'Patriot', although yeah, it's a little too long. Coming in the midst of all this is the title song, and it's actually funky! You can sing along with this one, a rarity for the 'Tilt' album! The closing 'Rosary' is three minutes of acoustic guitar married to pretty vocals but nonsensical lyrics. You assume the man must be onto something, and know what he's doing, even though this album actually makes little sense. It is worth persevering with, though. There are good songs and highlights here, and besides. 'Tilt' is an experience, if nothing else.

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    J F Buck jf.buck@blueyonder.co.uk
    Adrian wrote: 'Farmer In The City' is one of those Scott songs with added strings. Unlike his material in the past however this time we have strings added to lyrics that make no sense at all! I disagree, Adrian. I find the lyrics eminently sensible. But then--living opposite a cemetery: I am used to walking on 'brain grass' and going by "long, long eye gas". The blokes a genius!

    Michael Harrison fughedaboudit455@yahoo.com
    Anyone who enjoyed Scott Walker's first solo albums will be taken aback by this. It's experimental and totally uncommercial, with unfathomable lyrics and dissonant music. Regardless, EVERY Scott fan should listen to this. This is an interesting listen because it's a lot like Marianne Faithfull's approach to music. That is, it doesn't repeat past glories. For a middle-aged former pop star, that's pretty impressive. One thing: On first listen, Scott's vocals are rather disconcerting, as opposed to the smooth vocals of his earlier solo and Walker Bros. stuff. They're much more operatic, and Scott swoops and swoons to a great degree.

    G Neal gneal@nc.rr.com
    Hey, I think the lyrics to FITC are the voice of a slave from africa being auctioned off, and his thoughts about his new surroundings, and how truly terrified he is. Think about it.

    top of page Pola X 7 ( 1999 )
    The Time Is Out Of Joint / Light / Meadow / The Darkest Forest / Extra Blues - Smog / Never Again / IZA Kana Zanbi - FAIRUZ / Trang Mo Ben Sud - Gilles Fournier / Zai Na Yao Yuan De Di Fang - Gilles Fournier / The Church Of The Apostles / Bombupper / River Of Blood / Blink - Sonic Youth / Running / Closing / Isabel

    Scott doesn't get out much these days. Even rarer than Scott 'getting out' is the appearance of a new album, of which 'Pola X' really isn't. Well, it contains all new Scott material, plus guest appearances by the likes of Smog and Sonic Youth, but this you see is an instrumental soundtrack album. It won an award! Scott uses such occasions as an excuse to pay the bills, basically. Releasing an album every decade or so in recent years probably isn't enough for Scott to be all optimistic about living a life of luxury in his old age, so film-work and other work such as this no doubt comes in mighty handy and goes towards paying the bills, and suchforth. Anyway, after 'Tilt' Scott moves both ways in writing and orchestrating the music for the film 'Pola X'. 'The Darkest Forrest' shares a darkness with 'Tilt', although lacks the machine sounds of 'Tilt', being a full orchestral performance that rises and rises - scares the life out of me. The other way? Yeah, the other way Scott 'moves' during 'Pola X'? Well, 'The Light' is sheer glory, wonderfully beautiful. If he'd sang over this, it'd match anything he's ever done. The strings soar, everything sounds romantic and right back to those first four solo albums in terms of orchestration done so well. Thing is, Scott never used to arrange the orchestra himself, respected arrangers such as Wally Stott used to handle that side of things. So? Well, Scott has learnt something over the years, obviously. 'Light' is good enough, forgetting the rest of 'Pola X', to keep Scott fans happy for the next six years of so, or whenever his next album is done.

    Being a soundtrack album, we get a few diversions along the way. 'Extra Blues' written and performed by Smog, is an absolutely glorious song, with vocals, too! Nice to get a couple of vocal tunes here, even if that golden voice of Scotts is nowhere to be seen or heard. Just over six minutes long, 'Extra Blues' and it contains much darkness in the lyrical content as the orchestra sounds sick and ominous in the background. This 'Extra Blues' by Smog fits the soundtrack perfectly. Less a perfect fit is the Sonic Youth song, a rambling five minute piece of nothing sang by Kim Gordon. Well, correction. It sounds quite nice, but really doesn't go anywhere at all. Bar a couple of other non-scott instrumental/classical/soundtrack diversions and short pieces such as 'River Of Blood', obvious pieces of soundtrack filler, we're back to Scott melodies and Scott orchestrations. The best of which is the near seven minute long 'Isabel' which shares melodic themes with 'The Darkest Forest', obviously being a variation on the same theme, sounds like 'Tilt', only a 'Tilt' played by a full orchestra, obviously. There's beauty in 'Isabel', there's sadness in 'Isabel'. There's beauty and sadness in this Scott Walker 'Pola X' project and i'd die to hear him sing over music as great sounding and richly orchestrated as this.

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    top of page The Drift 9 ( 2006 )
    Cossacks Are / Clara / Jesse / Jolson and Jones / Cue / Hand Me Ups / Buzzers / Psoritic / The Escape / A Lover Loves

    Cossack, noun, one of a group of people from Russia with a famous history of fighting and bravery. You could easily picture this in the current top ten. medieval savagery, calculated cruelty. It's hard to pick the worst moment. Jesse. In times of loneliness and despair Elvis Presley would talk to his stillborn twin brother Jesse Garon Presley. Cue, in the lung smeared slides and corridors a flugleman moves and his tune rises on the harvest clouds of dust. Clara. On the 28th of April 1945 Benito Mussolini was taken for execution by members of the committee of national liberation for northern italy. Claretta Petacci insisted on dying with him. They were shot, the bodies piled into a truck and taken to the Piazzale Loreto at Milan to be strung up by the heels side by side, their heads about six feet from the ground. They were mocked, villified and riddled with bullets by the crowd that had gathered. All these and other headlines, both remembered and forgotten, in the past and distant past. Top session musicans and orchestra players brought in to slap a huge side of pork to create a percussive effect. Scott Walker using the studio better than he has since his heyday in the late sixties. A technique for composing began with his four songs from the final Walker Brothers album in 1978, 'Nite Flights', perfected and reaching fruition. 'Tilt', a very impressive album yet you could sense something was missing. 'Tilt' still contained a few pieces that didn't hang together and still contained a couple of attempted re-writes of 'The Electrician', Scott's masterpiece from 1978. 'The Drift' in contrast, is more clearly about something and more clearly a break from past, although it utilizes many of the same techniques employed during the recording of 'Tilt'. Scott Walker, now over sixty years of age. He's gone through teeny-bop pop with The Walker Brothers, gone through a tortured artist misunderstood solo career, descended into cabaret hell then gone. Vanished, back for four startling songs in 1978 it took him five years to follow-up, by which time all the momentum had gone. The gap between 'Climate Of Hunter' and 'Tilt' seemed huge. A similar time has passed between 'Tilt' and 'The Drift'. 'The Drift' has been worth waiting for.

    'Cossacks Are' is the uptempo track here designed to, apologies for being mischeivous, attract radioplay. There's an immediately startling and scary deep bass line, a single repeated guitar line that, along with the drums, seems at odds with the rolling bass line. The lyrics are what we now expect from Scott, mysterious and deep poetry. I say that without trying to sound stupid and pretentious. Scott walks a thin line sometimes, pretension always an accusation. 'The Drift' is such a perfectly realised and deeply considered collection of songs however, he more than gets away with it. An album infused with dark humour. It's there if you search for it. 'Clara' only two tracks in, this albums masterpiece, and masterpiece it is. Over twelve minutes long and contrary to every popular notion in modern music making, the first minute and a half is barely skeletal. It presents silence as a pause to introduce the track, with ominously beating drums. The noise that appears after this inital phase of the song is awesome. Swarming and sick sounding strings, the side of pork percussion, Scott's vocals rising to reach above this noise and desperation. 'Clara' tells a story that takes twelve minutes, forty five seconds to tell. After the four and a half minute mark, it also contains the albums most appreciable, tuneful orchestration, an utterly gorgeous sequence in complete contrast to what comes before and after. Going back to 'Scott 2', we hear echoes of 'Plastic Palace People' and other such Scott classics. 'Jesse' has terribly wonderful, picturesque lyrics portraying a deserted landscape. Elvis rolls across the desert plains, anguishingly crying ( in the voice of Scott Walker ) I'm the only one left alive, i'm the only one left alive. The song is a literal nightmare and astonishingly powerful.

    'Buzzers' is another amazing piece of composition, slabs of noise laid down, quiet stretches to build up tension, clever use of orchestration designed not to sound like regular orchestration. Scott's voice too, it's held up well through the years is all I can say. For reasons perhaps best know to Scott himself, the ending of 'The Escape' has donald duck in it. No, really. Donald Duck. Alongside other such twisted and emotional pieces, this has to be one of the albums most disturbing moments, somehow. The closing 'A Lover Loves', like the closer to 'Tilt', simply presents Scott over an acoustic guitar line. The repeated 'Pssst, psst, psst, psst' sections are somehow an indication we shouldn't take everything at face value. You know, kind of like, hey, look over your shoulder dear listener. I'm stood behind you laughing. Please take the time to understand.

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    Readers Comments

    jackwgeitz@yahoo.com jackwgeitz@yahoo.com
    Very poweful,unique,beautifuly crafted-yet dark,a mirror of today,I want to say-please dont keep me waiting for another 11 years Mr. Engel !!!!

    Jack jmichalko@o2.pl
    Me, contrary to `jackwgeitz`, i can wait damn 11 years for the next scott album, if only will be so great as this. TIME doesn`t matter to me! Doing garden & cooking - just like the Chinese do! (he-he)

    Chris futureproof381@hotmail.com
    The Drift is an album that you have to live with for a few months/several listens to truly appreciate.It is awash with literary,popular culture and political references often all at the same time(try and analyse the words to Jesse).I don't think it is as good as Tilt-not much is-but The Drift was worth the 11-year wait.

    There's a thin veil of art surrounding the monster that is The Drift. Everything on it is designed to unsettle and disturb. Nothing really sounds right and there is no light or relief. I haven't been so affected by an album like The Drift affected me before. Never before was I actually scared and at times had to pause it to catch my breath. Yet I couldn't stop listening, because it is a good album. But it does sound as if the Grim Reaper decided to make an album and get Hell's session musicians to help him along.

    top of page Bish Bosch 8 ( 2012 )
    'See You Donít Bump His Head' / Corps de Blah / Phrasing / SDSS1416+13B (Zercon, a Flagpole Sitter) / Epizootics / Dimple / Tar / Pilgrim / The Day the "Conducator" Died

    Back to save music from Simon Cowell, David Bowie and Gotye - arrives the now 69 year old singer/songwriter and art experimentalist Scott Walker. Well, Walker releases 'Bish Bosch', an album with the tough task of following up the acclaimed 'The Drift' and 'Tilt.' At one point during 'SDSS14+138' Scott sings 'I've severed my gonads', possibly not a line you are going to hear any of this years winners of The X-Factor singing, much I imagine, to everybodies wide dismay. Laughter and cheer are apparent when seeing X-Factor live audiences and naturally, laughter and cheer is also apparent throughout the grooves of 'Bish Bosch'. Well, of course not - this is very much a continuation of 'The Drift', albeit scarier and even more percussive. I also like the way, an hour into the album during the quite frankly astonishing 'Dimple', that Scott sings 'If you've made it this far, you must be alive'.

    During the drum heavy opening foot-tapping number 'See You Don't Bump Your Head' we've a single vocal hook 'plucking feathers from a swan song', which acts as a chorus of sorts. Naturally, the song only has pounding drums and eerie synths, yet Scott makes us all 'dance and sing' in any case. The ten minute, multi-part 'Corps De Blah' manages to give me the same thrill that I got when I first heard 'Plastic Palace People', a sense that the songwriter, singer and musicians were creating something mystical, infathomable and magical - a movie in song. It's a thrilling number, even with such lyrics as a strained 'PAIN IS NOT ALLOWED!' Following the epic 20 minute long 'SDSS14+138', a weird jungle-jazz type of thing 'Epizootics!' arrives, Scott should really go Jazz in my opinion. Well, it should be outer-space scary Jazz like this, of course. An eighty minute long album is the order of the day then, and you do wonder whether there will be another installment when Scott is 73 or so years young.

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    Readers Comments

    Michel LeGrisbi Regina, SK, Canada
    This album is pretty raw and unsettling in it's honesty. I don't know how many more times I'll play it......but I'm happy I have it.

    top of page this page last updated 23/08/15

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