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RE: The Top 30 Best Scott Walker Songs Ever

 
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RE: The Top 30 Best Scott Walker Songs Ever - 18/2/2012 3:04:47 PM   
Rhubarb


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From: No Direction Home
09 Jolson and Jones (Walker)



One of Walker’s most infamous songs (This is the one where he punches a donkey in the streets of Galway) Jolson and Jones almost epitomises The Drift in a way. It is complicated, a bit scary and uses wildly imaginative imagery. The title refers to Al Jolson, star of the Jazz Singer, and Allan Jones, father of another of Walker’s childhood heroes, Jack Jones. Allan Jones was best known for the song Donkey Serenade (here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RyHNlfT6B9E) from the movie Firely. Walker references the song, and imagines Jolson and Jones as a washed up drunken double act, set aside like so many of Walker’s heroes and contemporaries were, and as he very nearly was in the 1970s, left alone to drink himself to death as long as he banged out some cover versions of whatever people wanted to hear.
The song itself begins on a discord, and creeps on, with Walker’s voice somehow distant. Bits of tune come in and out (Curare! Curare! Curare! is quite catchy, in fact) as well as the sound of a braying donkey, and before the end, Jolson and Jones are punching donkeys in the streets of Galway, Walker delivering the lines with triumphant anger.

Find it on The Drift

Listen to it http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5fJ0_uWjMfk


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RE: The Top 30 Best Scott Walker Songs Ever - 18/2/2012 3:08:33 PM   
Rhubarb


Posts: 24508
Joined: 30/9/2005
From: No Direction Home
08 No Regrets (Tom Rush)



To give you some idea of how much Scott Walker shadows my life, my very first memory in this life involves him. I had been told off for something that I don’t recall, and my mother was deeply upset with me. I had to sit on the sofa and sulk essentially, while my mum did the housework, and she put music on while she did whatever, and she put on the Walker’s No Regrets. Probably some other songs as well, but it is Scott Walkers tones that stuck in my mind.
An unlikely hit, No Regrets comes from The Walker Brothers unlikely reformation in the 70s. Following a lost period of drunken cover versions (the albums from which Walker still denies official release for) Walker got the old band back together for another waltz. No Regrets (cliché title, though not as clichéd title in 1975 as it seems now) was the name of the comeback single and accompanying album, and scored them a Top 10 hit in the UK.
The song itself is a beautifully sad song (shocking) about a relationship that has broken up, but our ever-cheery protagonist is not interesting in restarting the relationship because they would only break up all over again, though he confesses it “feels so strange, to walk away, alone”.
The Walkers comeback was an interesting beast, arguably it is Scott's entire career impossibly sped up, three increasingly experimental albums, before disbanding once again and good. Another unexpected twist in an unpredictable career.

Find it on No Regrets, or essentially any Walker Brothers best of you might find.

Listen http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ceafx0Y3bB0


< Message edited by Rhubarb -- 18/2/2012 3:10:49 PM >


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Post #: 92
RE: The Top 30 Best Scott Walker Songs Ever - 18/2/2012 3:12:16 PM   
Rhubarb


Posts: 24508
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From: No Direction Home
07 Funeral Tango (Brel/Shuman)



The song I want played at my funeral, though I may have to have Brel’s original so as to not annoy everyone who is there. Walker’s waltz through Brel’s hilarious, scathing, camp attack on everyone who is at his funeral completely uncaring of him on a profound level, is as frighteningly accurate a portrayal of faux-religious ceremonies as you’ll ever hear, you’ll recognise every single thing he mentions in all likelihood. There is the ones who don’t know his age, or how long ago he died, the ones going through his stuff, the kids who don’t care, the faux-emotions, the ones worried about the cost, the ones who just want to go home. As an examination of selfishness, it is peerless.


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Post #: 93
RE: The Top 30 Best Scott Walker Songs Ever - 19/2/2012 8:59:27 PM   
Rhubarb


Posts: 24508
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From: No Direction Home
06 The Seventh Seal (Engel)



One of the things that Walker found really exciting about being féted in Europe was that he loved European cinema, and hoped that when he arrived over here, he would have people to sit around and chat about it with. Apparently he was disappointed, as they all wanted to talk to him about Woody Allen instead.
Nevertheless, The Seventh Seal is his tribute to Ingmar Bergman’s movie of the same name. It essentially is a baroque pop version of the events from the film, which is interesting as the film would be nearly twenty years old at this point, and this in the pre-VHS era too. But Walker was obviously familiar enough with the plot to essentially condense and dramatise it into song.
The great thing about the song is that it works as a reminder of all the good things from Bergman’s movie, without trying to fit on the soundtrack or try to sound specifically medieval. Every time I listen to the song (which is fairly often) I am struck with a momentary desire to be the DVD on. Which is a success by any standard.

Find it on Scott 4

Listen and Watch the inevitable YT mashup: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jMUk1R_fKEA


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ORIGINAL: FritzlFan

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Post #: 94
RE: The Top 30 Best Scott Walker Songs Ever - 19/2/2012 9:02:32 PM   
Rhubarb


Posts: 24508
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From: No Direction Home
05 The Sun Aint Gonna Shine Anymore (Crew/Gaudio)




When Scott Walker’s obituary gets written, there is absolutely no doubt that within the first line, The Sun Aint Gonna Shine Anymore will feature. An indestructibly big hit for The Walker Brothers back in 1966, its hugeness launched The Walkers career, briefly made them more popular in the UK (US success, despite all three being American was never really as forthcoming) than The Beatles. To some extent – commercially at the very least – overshadowed anything any of them would ever do after.
It also set the tone for Walker as a bit of a gloom merchant, it is a broody song about a broken heart, and how it is not worth carrying on, and it finds such beauty in this, that it is transcendent, in a way that only the best pop music can be. No wonder the Americans didn’t get it – what did these three Californians have to be so miserable about? Wouldn’t we rather listen to the Beatles shake their heads and say “woo”?
Originally written by Bob Crewe and Bob Gaudio.for Frankie Valli (his first post Four Seasons single, though it features some of that band) the song is a heartbreakingly good pop song about the world ending because a girl has taken her love away. Valli’s version wasn’t a success (you can listen to it here – with the exception of it not having Scott’s vocal, its basically the same http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZbwS2SqNbEM) Just a year later, The Walkers launched their version, and a combination of Scott’s perfect voice, and his quick elevation to heartthrob for the masses meant it was a massive hit (again, in the UK, it got to just #13 in the US) and Scott Walker’s career really began. While it might be easy to sneer at The Sun Aint Gonna Shine, due to its overreaching influence (any clip mentioning Walker will play a little bit of the track at the very least) but it is an incredible, beautiful record.

Find it On: The expanded version of the Walker’s Second album, Portrait, or alternatively any of the many, many Walker Brothers best ofs out there.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2eAxCVTMJ-I&feature=related

Here’s a bonus, Alan Rickman’s version. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AZ52td1GMT0

< Message edited by Rhubarb -- 19/2/2012 9:04:41 PM >


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ORIGINAL: FritzlFan

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Post #: 95
RE: The Top 30 Best Scott Walker Songs Ever - 19/2/2012 9:23:28 PM   
Rhubarb


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From: No Direction Home
04 Next (Brel/Shuman)



My favourite of the many, many great Brel covers, Next is delivered by Walker in much the same way as it was by Brel, he even can’t resist doing some of the voices. It concerns a haunted ex-soldier remembering the day he lost his virginity – thanks to an army brothel, in which they are marched in one by one. As such it pretty much encapsulates everything that Brel was writing about that seemed so radical and new to Walker, its lyrics are littered with casual references to homosexuality, sexually transmitted infections, and nightmareish Vietnam style flashbacks. Walker, oddly discovered Brel from a playboy playmate, who happened to have a copy of Olympia 64 lying around, adding to the surreal sex-based feel of things.
The sheer theatrically of the thing is absolutely magnificent, and to turn something so nightmarish into something so camply thrilling is incredible. What Walker’s voice adds is the sense of torture, so that the song doesn’t become completely flippant, there is a genuine agony in Walker’s voice that suggests that when he says he’ll do anything to survive, he’s telling the truth.

Find it on Scott 2
Brel’s version http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b3zlM7d69rA
Walker’s Version http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MwhIxRhbXCM


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RE: The Top 30 Best Scott Walker Songs Ever - 24/4/2012 12:44:33 AM   
Rhubarb


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So even though I forgot about this thread, and assumed everyone had lost interest, I got a PM last week asking me how it ends, all will be revealed.

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Post #: 97
RE: The Top 30 Best Scott Walker Songs Ever - 24/4/2012 12:57:07 AM   
Rhubarb


Posts: 24508
Joined: 30/9/2005
From: No Direction Home
03 It's Raining Today (Engel)



It's Raining Today is possibly the perfect Scott Walker song title, especially for his late 60s work, and Its Raining Today is possibly the perfect Scott Walker song. For a long time, it was my favourite certainly. Walker sounds on the edge of some big emotion, as usual, its not a particularly happy one, you'll never guess - there is a girl, and the relationship has ended. Walker describes it (in the video below) as a song about his years as a teenage beatnik, travelling across America imagining he was Kearouc. The song certainly reflects a fleeting moment, but the beauty of the lyric is that it is one last whistful memory, before he forgets her forever, going on to repeat his dreams to someone new, which makes sense to a life "on the road". Its a powerful idea, and pushed on by Wally Stott's incredible arrangement, that brings to mind Bernard Hermanan's scores, its becomes this big, beautiful sigh of a song. At once whistful, without being cloying, meleanchoic and celebratory, It's Raining Today is one of those songs that just absolutely floors me every time I hear it.

Find it on: Its the opening track to the highly reccomended Scott 3

Listen to a live version from his late 60's TV show: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NV7np4lgj5I

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Post #: 98
RE: The Top 30 Best Scott Walker Songs Ever - 24/4/2012 1:12:26 AM   
Rhubarb


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02 - The Old Man's Back Again (Dedicated to Neo-Stalinist Regime) (Engel)



As you will have gathered from reading through this thread, when Scott Walker came around to record Scott 4, it tanked, and was quickly deleted, despite being not only the best of the Scott albums, but possibly the best album by anyone in the history of popular music. There have been many, many reasons offered as to why this could have happened when 3 was a considerable hit – with 4 albums in 3 years people were just sick of Walker, the fact it didn’t contain Scott Walker’s name anywhere on the record (it doesn’t say "Walker" anywhere on the cover, and he is credited as Noel Scott Engel in the linear notes), the fact that Scott 3 was entirely in waltz time so you couldn’t dance to it, so people gave up on him (this is what Walker believes, curiously). But my own personal theory is that in 1969 you couldn’t put out a song called openly dedicated (however sarcastically) to the Neo-Stalinist Regime and hope to sell like The Beatles.
It is a shame, because it is one of the best songs ever written. Of course, despite the title, and the singalong chorus ("The-ol-ol-old man's back again") It is of course a scathing tut at Stalin, and the young bucks on the left who were after a new Stalin figure. Despite the dark themes the song touches on - soldiers again, members of the family being taken away in the night - Walker displays his oft-missed sense of humour in plain site here - A soldier is devoured by the pain of not having an "old man" to walk behind, for he does not believe in the new Old Man, this is largely because his mother named him Ivan, then she died, so couldn't change it.

Find it on: The now absolutely not-deleted and even avaliable on Spotify, Scott 4

Listen to it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9DpDxT2q9QE

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ORIGINAL: FritzlFan

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Post #: 99
RE: The Top 30 Best Scott Walker Songs Ever - 24/4/2012 1:30:16 AM   
Rhubarb


Posts: 24508
Joined: 30/9/2005
From: No Direction Home
01 Farmer in the City (Remembering Pasolini) (Walker)



Here we arrive at the end, and at the top spot, it is that most magnificent piece - the opening track to Walker's seminal, game-changing, career-rescuing Tilt. Tilt has a reputation for being difficult, scary, noisy and horrid. At times it is, though it is an incredible piece of work. Most incredible of all is its opening track, a dark, brooding, atmospheric, chilling piece of work. As the title suggests it is a tribute to the late Italian filmaker/poet/artist/thinker Pier Paolo Pasolini (influence on numerous others, including Morrissey, whos biggest chart hit to date references him too) who's outrageous work and obvious homosexuality, coupled with his commie leanings did not go down very well in super-Catholic Italy and eventually led to him being killed. Walker's song appropriates English langauge translations of (sound familiar, by the way?) Pasolini's poem One of the Many Epilogs, which was written for his protogé Ninetto Davoli (who appeared in a few Pasolini films, he's pretty brill in the patchy Arabian Nights) who was 21 when he was drafted into the Italian army (which is apparently where Walker's "chorus" to this song comes from).
There is something so powerful about Farmer in the City, it moves me in the same way as It's Raining Today does. It is obviously less obvious than anything that had come previously - its left field even compared with Climate of the Hunter, but it is an incredible breath of fresh air, and it is comfortably the most accessable track of the supopsed "difficult" Scott Walker era. What is interesting about it is its unlikely influence. It came out in 1995, when britpop gooning (I like britpop gooning, incidentally) when at its absolute zenith, and yet both Damon Albarn (who did a tribute cover of this song live) and Jarvis Cocker have both expressed hearing Tilt and taking a good long look at themselves. Both headed straight into their darkest periods right after, not coincidently, with Blur's moody anti-fame self titled followed by the heartbreaking and "diffcult" album, 13, while pulp produced the astonishingly dark This is Hardcore which features songs comparing fame to porn stars. Walker could have taken the easy way out, and reformed the walker's and traded on Britpop's 60s retro look, but he didn't, and instead managed to shape the next batch of classic british albums. Not bad for a man who hadn't made a classic album in 25 years.

Find it: Opening Tilt

Hear it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zIJzTWk6bSw

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Post #: 100
RE: The Top 30 Best Scott Walker Songs Ever - 24/4/2012 4:05:52 PM   
people are leaving


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I sincerely appreciate the effort Rhubarb. I learned much about Mr Engel form this thread, let alone the songs. So thanks.

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Post #: 101
RE: The Top 30 Best Scott Walker Songs Ever - 24/4/2012 4:50:50 PM   
matty_b


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Brilliant choices.



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Post #: 102
RE: The Top 30 Best Scott Walker Songs Ever - 24/4/2012 10:31:01 PM   
Toast


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I definitely think I'm going to have to start listening to Scott Walker. Thanks for the list.

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Post #: 103
RE: The Top 30 Best Scott Walker Songs Ever - 8/9/2012 6:52:02 PM   
Gravitas

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: Harry Tuttle

Where would the denizens of Empire suggest a newbie to Scott Walker starts then?


I'd say Scott 2 to start with - It took me a long time though to forgive it for not being Scott (1). The song I played most for a long time - which invariably always had a mind enhancing effect was Such a Small Love (such a little tear)

But of course there are so many brilliant tracks to choose from it's difficult.

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Post #: 104
RE: The Top 30 Best Scott Walker Songs Ever - 8/9/2012 7:11:21 PM   
Gravitas

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: Piles

quote:

ORIGINAL: Lazy wolf eyes

First time I've heard Jesse. I imagine it's a bit of a grower. Or maybe I just like the more bombastic stuff. 

If You Go Away above Amsterdam? Madness. Utter madness. I love the song, don't get me wrong, but I'd love it more if I'd never heard the original. I think if you took away Scott's voice it would be a bit poo, really. Mind you, even with the translation it's got some sweet lyrics.



I think I prefer the Brel If You Go Away. There's a performance of it where he's choking back the tears towards the end and it's absolutely breath taking.


Scott doesn't like to overdo the emotionalism but finds it a battle not to.

For understated sadness The House Song takes some beating - there is no hysteria on that one at all. But it is still very moving.

< Message edited by Gravitas -- 8/9/2012 7:12:05 PM >

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Post #: 105
RE: The Top 30 Best Scott Walker Songs Ever - 8/9/2012 8:37:48 PM   
MovieAddict247


Posts: 3751
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GAH! I've only just realised that this list has finished so scrolled through it to see what was what.


And Farmer in the City is one of the most beautiful songs ever written and my favourite ever vocals. Great write up too.

< Message edited by MovieAddict247 -- 8/9/2012 8:38:17 PM >


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