22.12.09

SCOTT WALKER : Sings Songs From His T.V. Series (1969) / The Moviegoer (1972)

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A Festive treat for Gabardine-wrapped, Carnaby Street miserablists everywhere - two of Scott's rarest albums, neither of which you'll find on Amazon anytime soon...

Scott Walker Sings Songs From His T.V. Series has yet to be reissued on CD. Released by Philips 1969 between his classic third & fourth solo albums it's not the neglected masterpiece one might naturally expect, despite it's admirable vintage. It's a needless, compromised throwback to his Walker Brothers' years, a syrupy selection of slushy, pompously-arranged standards that sound like they were picked for him by over-cautious producers keen to placate the Septuagenarian pipe-&-slippers audience that had been so roundly alienated by all that smutty Brel rubbish (ahem). Drawing on songwriters as prominent as Charles Azanavour, Bacarach & David, Jerry Herman, Kurt Weill, Rodgers & Hammerstein (but significantly not Brel himself) it remains an uncomortable, often cringeworthy listen & it's not difficult to see why Scott might have attempted to block any kind of re-release (a few songs have slipped out on on Mercury's 2005 Classics & Collectables compilation however). Tragically, the entire T.V. series (plus a couple of standalone specials) this collection was cherrypicked from has been wiped by the ever-dependable BBC so there's zero possibility of ever viewing these songs' solitary saving grace, the fantastic period footage. Idiots.

Succeeding 'Til The Band Comes In, 1972's The Moviegoer was briefly reissued in the immediate wake of Fontana's early 90s reissue programme but was quickly withdrawn at Scott's behest (again, a handful of tracks appear on Classics & Collectables). I guess it's understandable that he might not want to be reminded of this era, creatively & personally he was in terrible shape, prepared to sing anything Philips put in front of him providing the fee was ample & the scotch was flowing. Contrary to popular opinion, it's a surprisingly lovely listen in places - Scott is on magnificent form (his vocal technique had definitely matured since his Walkers' heyday), Johnny Franz's production is huskily melancholy rather than garishly overblown, & the selection of cinematic theme songs is far from repellent (only the pungent country Stilton of "All His Children" is likely to set one's teeth on edge - dig that atrocious cornball phrasing, it's the one time he lets his stoic professionalism slip to sound as royally pissed off as the indignant sleeve pic implies). Listening to it as I type, at 2am with the lights dimmed & a large glass of wine at hand, it's beginning to sound very seductive indeed. It's no Scott 4 but I still tentatively recommend it...

T.V. / Movie

Links sourced from the now defunct NoMusik blog (thanks).

8 comments:

  1. Anonymous10.1.10

    A million thanks for posting this pair. I used to own a scratched charity shop copy of the TV Series LP, and a friend once made me a tape of The Moviegoer - but this is the first chance in years I've had to listen to these properly. And it doesn't matter that they're all covers - Scott could sing pages from the phone book and make it sound like a life or death matter...!

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  2. Lucky you, I've never seen a copy of either of them on vinyl for less than £25! No idea why these 2 are so difficult to find, even on the blogosphere, when interest in (solo) Scott is at an all-time high but it's great to hear them isn't it? His voice sounds incredible on The Moviegoer I think, even if he WAS on auto-pilot?

    I've also got links for Stretch & Any Day Now if you need them, let me know...

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  3. yes, i'd love to hear Stretch and Any Day Now! please!

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  4. Bear with me & I'll get 'em up. Both LPs have a couple of v.good songs on them so they 're definitely worth hearing (once).

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  5. How can anyone not love these albums? Well crafted songs, arranged and played beautifully, and a singer at the peak of his powers. Such a formula makes the world go round, and gave Sinatra and Bennet (and others), entire careers.

    Scott himself has initiated a certain amount of "musical snobbery" around these releases. But the truth is they're wonderful to hear. I'd far sooner listen to these than Climate of the Hunter, Tilt, or Drift. (I love the avant garde. It's just that I don't think Scott is any good at it).

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  6. I have to admit that Tilt is one of my favourite Scott LPs, it's his masterpiece as far as I'm concerned but, yep, I've failed to understand the hyperbole around The Drift as well. I've always had a love/hate relationship with Climate Of Hunter - it's good but, following on from Nite flights, not good ENOUGH.

    N.B. Don't miss Stretch & Any Day Now either, they're both elsewhere on the blog & possibly better than these 2 albums! I'm still looking for We Had It All, let me know if you can help... x

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