September 1, 2009

An education: Scott Walker

Scott Walker It's Raining Today:

The reason I am posting this will become apparent in a day or two, but I want everyone to hear my favorite Scott Walker song, which was (pleasingly) released within weeks of my birth in 19...whatever. If you know the name or voice, you probably know Walker's hits, possibly without realizing you do. Two classics: The Sun Ain't Gonna Shine Anymore and Make it Easy On Yourself. His influence on pop music is sweeping: just about any wide-screen orchestral music and passionate singing (crooning!) start with Scott. Just think of Neil Hannon and The Divine Comedy, Richard Hawley, and one that more of you will know, the great Marc Almond of Soft Cell.

The first time I heard this particular song I was in the one of the best record stores in America, one that sadly - and cynically - doesn't exist anymore: Let It Be Records in Minneapolis. They blasted this on the sound system and I bought it on the spot.

If you like pop music with strings, I urge you to play the clip above. To see how au courant Walker remains, check out the clip below from Alex Turner's side project, The Last Shadow Puppets. The video, for one of the most underrated songs of 2008, even pays homage to The Walker Brothers look...

The Last Shadow Puppets
Standing Next To Me:


countpopula said...

I love this album so much, I recently sought it out on vinyl. Absolutely immense, and to think, this topped the British charts around the Beatles era, albeit it was the last time Scott actually charted a solo record. The man was/is a genius, and Scott 3 was his peak for me, full of fantastic character songs, all sung flawlessly without the aid of anything like autotune, with orchestral parts gorgeously arranged by the recently deceased Wally Stott, who later became Angela Morley. Big Louise is especially touching, while Copenhagen, Butterfly, and Winter Night are pure magic. Don't even get me started on his reading of If You Go Away.

Scott has become more isolated as an artist over the years, and his recent albums are so far from the Scott of the 60's, and may be unlistenable for some, so buyer, beware. There are not many artists I can think of who have travelled so far from the poppier side of what they used to do. David Sylvian comes to mind, although he sometimes drifts back into more accessible sounds, while Marc Almond has always embraced the cabaret sound, but admits he does not enjoy more recent Scott.

Is this post in anticipation of Marc's new Russian CD? Can't wait...

Myfizzypop said...

Glorious. I have to say that it was entirely down to you that I ever got into Scott Walker at all. Such a beautiful voice, and such lovely arrangements of songs, full of depth and character. Quite quite stunning really. So thanks ;)

Vinny Vero said...

STILL gives me goosebumps. Such a glorious song from an incredible album.

Joseph said...

I can't come close to describing this song, or so many others of Scott's. "It's Raining Today" in particular is just sublime. My favorites, in no particular order:

Montague Terrace (In Blue)
Such A Small Love
When Joanna Loved Me
Best Of Both Worlds
The Amorous Humphrey Plugg
The Girls From The Streets
Plastic Palace People
It's Raining Today
Big Louise
30 Century Man
If You Go Away
On Your Own Again
Boy Child

Joseph said...

Just wanted to add that Marc Almond's covers of Scott Walker (or Jacques Brel-via-Scott Walker) are phenomenal. His cover of "Big Louise" is how I first heard of Scott. I loved it so much that I had to research who this "Scott Engel" guy was who wrote it. That was obviously a fruitful journey!

Anonymous said...

"If you like pop music with strings..."

Oh xo, darling, I like my pop music like I like my sex: no strings attached. LOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOL!!!!! Geddit?

I am teeeeerrible!!!1!!!!!1!

*I made a joke creating an association between string instruments and the expression "no strings attached" used for casual sexual encounters for anyone who didn't understand. I like to explain myself. It's best as I don't like misunderstandings. Often when I come home in the evening before I take my shoes off and have a piss, I stand there in the doorway and think what I could have explained better during the day. Then I froth at the mouth a little bit (like Little Boots - that bedroom synth noodler with her frothy electropop) and get on with my evening.

Phil said...

It's not just raining today, it's pissing it down!

Love Scott Walker. Marc Almond's Big Louise is a big fave. Have you heard his Marc and the Mambas stuff?

Matt Microfilm said...

I love love LOVE SW. Bought his 5 disc box set a few years ago (Five Easy Pieces); so worth it. Look for it on Ebay, its kind of hard to find now.

I mentioned Scott's name on our first album and always joked that our 2nd album was a Synthpop/disco version of a Scott Walker record.

Also, check out the doc about him "30th Century Man"(is that the title?)


Michael said...

Hahaha - Let It Be Records!

I live in the Twin Cities and used to hate going there because of the attitudinal employees. Would you like a side of snark with that Scott Walker album?

"I've owned it for 15 years and you're only just getting around to buying it? You poor thing. Enjoy!"

I have to say that I don't miss the place... and there is always the Electric Fetus.

What were you doing in Minneapolis?

xolondon said...

Michael, you need to get imperious on their asses when they treat you like shit!

I was streetwalking in Minn. back in the day. No, I was there for a meeting and I took a nothing day and suddenly made it all seem worthwhile...

countpopula said...

Almost forgot to thank you for the link to the Last Shadow Puppets vid. Great song with an effective video that probably cost a lot more to make than it would appear. I almost don't recognize Alex now with his long hair!