Scott Walker
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markl

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My current avatar comes from Scott Walker's first solo album, "Scott 1".

Much like Nick Drake, Scott Walker is currently in the middle of a sort of "renaisance" in terms of the re-evaluation of his work, and influence on major artists of today. Like Drake, his most seminal work was created in the late 60's/early 70's. As with most great artists, he was largely mis-understood by his various record companies and was doomed to be more influential among musicians "in the know" than the general record-buying public. IMO, he is one of the truly giant musical artists of the 20th century.

His most influential and important work consists of his now legendary first 4 solo albums, all named "Scott" (he was a member of a teen pop group called the "Walker Brothers" who were not actually related). There is even an English group called "Scott 4" that is named after SW's 4th album and most commercially-suicidal release. He's a legend for being so true to his sound and art.

Walker was an American transplanted to Brittain to avoid the American draft and service in Viet Nam. He rose to fame as part of the "Walker Brothers" and enjoyed wide-spread acclaim in Brittain and Europe early in his career. He was the only talented member of the group and was responsible for the majority of their hits. Later on, he withdrew from the public eye for many years only to return with a couple of stunning releases, which I will discuss shortly.

For the record, SW has had a major impact on Roxy Music, Marc Almond/Soft Cell, David Bowie, Pulp (he produced their latest album, "We Love Life"), Radiohead, Jeff Buckley, Nick Cave and many, many more.

Imagine a rock 'n roll Frank Sinatra (his vocals are that good), singing Existentialist songs about the alienation of modern life. It's way, way out there.

Your best bet is to find the latest re-master of "Boy Child" a compilation of his self-penned tracks from his 60's/70's prime. The latest version is in HDCD and sounds just fantastic given the age of the recordings. This "best of" completely blew my mind and led to the subsequent purchase of all the re-masters of his first 5 albums, plus his two modern realeases. They're all utterly amazing. This is some of the most well-made, yet utterly "alien" music I've ever heard. I've owned thousands of CDs, but Scott Walker's work is in a category by itself, and completely "special". This is not music for "everyone". It's very peculiar and strange, but totally amazing.

His most recent album "Tilt" is the most far-out music he has ever made, and inluenced Radiohead's "Kid A" and "Amnesiac". Want to know where "I woke up sucking a lemon" comes from? Check out "Tilt".

"Tilt" is one of the best headphone albums ever made, but don't listen to it alone and in the dark-- it will scare you to death!

Again, SW is not for everyone, but once you're hooked, you're in it for life.

Any other fans out there?

Mark
 
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Beagle

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Thanks for the refresher on "Tilt" I have this album and found it interesting but difficult to access and absorb.

I'm going to listen to it again and give it another shot, particularly since I enjoyed the last two Radiohead albums.
 
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mrselfdestruct

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damn, markl you are so right about night headphone listening to Tilt, especially the 3rd song, i think, the one thats really ominous for the first few minutes and then just gets all industrial? and then the locust song, ****, that album used to freak the **** out of me at night when i was like 15 or 16. that definitely reminds me to go back and listen to it again. i think one of the coolest songs ive ever heard by him is "It's Raining Today", where theres this weird quarter tone string drone in the left channel throughout this whole song, which is just a little innocuous pop song that couldve been written by anyone, the genius is in that disturbing contrast made by the string, defnitely made me think differently about music in general and how one could make it. its cool that you picked up on the influence he made on bowie, ive always said that, but i think walker is a much more talented singer.
 
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markl

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mr selfdestruct,
"It's Raining Today" is my favorite Scott Walker song. Just stops you dead in your tracks, it's so haunting. He's both morose and secretly gleeful that "it's raining today". He can express so much with that voice.

I love his stuff so much that I actually morsel out how often I listen to it, as I just don't want to get "burned out" on it.

What's your favorite "Scott"? Although Scott 4 has the most mystique, as it was deleted by the record company mere weeks after its release and was subsequently very rare and hard to find (he insisted the album be credited to his real name "Noel Scott Engel" instead of Scott Walker so most fans never even knew it came out), I'm a "Scott 3" man myself.

Imagine if one of the Backstreet Boys or NSync just happened to be a genius, revolted and broke out on his own to pursue his own artistic vision, studied the Existentialist philosphers, covered racy English-language versions of Jacques Brel songs, and sang almost gothic tone poems with orchestral backing. It's no wonder the label dropped him, he was supposed to be a "teen idol". I can't imagine what the Walker Brothers' teenage fanbase made of those 4 solo albums!

If your curiosity is piqued, again I'd say start with the 2000 re-master of "Boy Child", or get the "Scott 3" re-master also from 2000. These are all in "24-bit HDCD". Avoid the versions from the early 90's and the compilation "It's Raining Today" as sound quality is poor. If you're feeling really adventurous, by all means dive right into "Tilt" from '95. Tilt requires your total attention and should really be listened to start-to-finish. It rewards repeated listening, but it's very abstract in parts.


Mark
 
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donunus

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Just wondering. Is there anything I need in the scott albums if I get the box set 5 easy pieces? Looks pretty complete and must bed remastered too since its a 2006 release
 
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markl

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5 Easy Pieces has material on it you can't get anywhere else (or at least not easily). It's a decent value, but for a real fan no box set is going cut it, you only see what's missing and not what's there. The remastering quality is so-so, somewhat indifferent.

The problem is that it chops up the work into 5 themed parts, mixing really old with really recent work, and they really don't go together. later albums like Tilt and Climate of Hunter have to be listened to as a single piece.
 
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markl

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You also have to be careful, the initial run of 5 easy pieces has one of the discs (I believe it was disc 3) that will not play. I bought a copy of this and had to replace the whole damn box set with a newer one that was corrected.
 
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donunus

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Ok so getting scott 1-4 and tilt is a better thing to do
 
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donunus

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Ive heard some of the old songs and a have tilt. I like him enough to get into his discography. Sort of like a dark jeff buckley and the older stuff also have a folky tim buckley sound. nice. He also reminds me of nick cave a bit
 
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Pretty much all of Scott Walker's discography is worth owning save for a few "mistakes".

The Drift is absolutely fantastic and probably my favorite album of his.

A remastered (or more "unremastered") audiophile boxset of 1-4 is much needed. Though I haven't heard the 24 bit HDCDs markl refers to.
 
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donunus

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Just listened to the drift. its hard to get into while tilt is right at home with my ears
 
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hahaha I never knew jackie was originally his. I always thought it was marc almonds. Love this song


I'm now listening to the old stuff and I can see where Pulp and the Divine Comedy got some of their style. My god I love this stuff
 
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markl

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Jackie is actually a Jacques Brel song, a big influence on Scott. Scott covers a lot of his material on his first 3 albums.

Brel sings in French, but he's one of the most amazing vocalists ever. He has a great 2CD set called Infiniment out I highly recommend.
 
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Scott is difficult to buy, I think. I started with Tilt, then Boy Child (the one-disc compilation that doesn't have a bad song on it). I got the boxed set and then The Drift, but I could happily own more. Part of the problem is that Scott has prevented the re-release of a lot of his MOR work.

For my money, Scott 1-4 would be the ones to get first, maybe throwing in Tilt for the brilliant "Farmer in the City". The programming of the boxed set seems all wrong to me, although in terms of material it's one of the best boxed sets that I own.
 
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I bought a Scott Walker album, Classics & Collectibles, a while back after reading the buzz on here. I guess I just don't 'get' him... the music seemed very cheesy/hokey to me.

Favourite quote: "It was the first time I got gonorrhea..."

...really, so there was a second time?


Like anything I will give it a second chance. The disc is on ice right now, but I will be sure to give it a few more solid listens before selling it. Since it is a compilation if I wright down the songs I like that would probably give me a better idea which album would be a good place to start.
 
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