Monday, March 25, 2019

Carrying a Scott Walker LP under your arm in 1967 was a cry for help

Not everything that came out in 1967 was bitten by psychedelia.

I bought this copy of Scott Walker's first solo LP in the same shop in the same year that I bought “Sgt Pepper”.

Scott Walker was just coming out of three years of being a scream idol with the Walker Brothers and he was determined that this time he was going to undersell himself. I fancy the picture on the back which has him looking soulfully towards the camera while a sophisticated lady gazed admiringly in his direction was originally planned to be on the front. I bet he didn’t want it, which is why they wound up with the picture they did, in which he seems to be doing everything in his power not to be a heart throb.

Of course, that was something he couldn’t help. This was a big hit album. The only records that stopped it going to number one were "Sgt Pepper" and "The Sound Of Music". He still got booked on the same TV shows as Tom Jones and Cilla Black. He even had his own prime time series.

This was one of those LPs you carried around under your arm, in the hope that some of its existential chic would rub off on your school blazer. Everybody has to have an image. It's often the case that the people trying hardest not to have one end up with the most powerful images of all. Scott Walker could have put a patent on "Beautiful Loser".

Musically I liked it then for the same reasons I like it now. He had a voice that seemed built for Rodgers and Hammerstein as much as Burt Bacharach. He had that thundering sound that was magically cooked up in Phillips studios between Wally Stott, a rock and roll rhythm section and scores of fiddle players who probably wore braces and armbands.

And there's nobody like him, before or since. Scott Walker's one of those artists, like Randy Newman, who arrived without antecedents. Now he seems to have departed without successors.

1 comment:

  1. I agree; though in Jarvis Cocker we sort of have a Scott Walker lite.