Scott Walker – Boy Child: The Best of Scott Walker 1967-1970

Scott WalkerA couple of weeks ago, Nikolai wrote a guest review in Bina’s film site about the documentary Scott Walker: 30th Century Man, which seems to be a rather fawning, almost sycophantic portrait of a genuinely interesting artist. For the uninformed, Scott Walker was part of the hugely successful American trio the Walker Brothers (that weren’t brothers or had Walker as their real surname). After couple of British hit singles, Scott quit the band and re-modeled himself as a serious artist, singing epically arranged songs heavily influenced by Belgium’s own misery guts, Jaques Brel. The transformation would be like if Robbie Williams decided he didn’t want to be “Mr Song and Dance Man” and become Thom Yorke instead. Alienating his pop fans, Scott recorded a series of self-titled albums between 1967 and 1970.

It’s 20 of these songs that are featured on this CD. It’s also a good collection of songs before Scott fully delved into the avant garde and became even more obtuse. The songs undoubtedly have a timeless quality to them due to how old they are, but the orchestration harks back to a day, pre-rock where an artist would record with an orchestra instead of a band. Scott himself has a warm, soothing voice that never barks for attention but just sits on top of the music. The lyrics are detailed and filled with tiny snippets, usually small details that flesh out the characters in the songs (“she shrieks/her gold teeth flash with rapturous delight” The Girl From The Street).

The music also shifts and moves with the songs, the pace and sheer scale of noise sometimes is breathtaking: on “Such A Small Love” , the orchestra roars into life with the chorus and it sounds amazing. “On Your Own” starts with a gentle acoustic strum before a shimmering string section comes in and makes the song somehow more intimate. There’s also some non-album tracks that have been compiled here: the spaghetti-Western themed “The Rope And The Colt” and the strange, twisting “The Plague”. Both of these feature harmonies which take away from Scott’s voice a bit, but they’re the most musically varied. I can see why Scott’s music from this period’s been influential; it seeps with a late 60’s sophisticated style that’s very appealing.

Scott and the rest of the Walker Brothers pimp chocolate in Japan in the 60’s:

Trailer for Scott Walker: 30th Century Man:

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