Scott Walker

It seems like it’s becoming a weekly occurrence, losing a major star of experimental and groundbreaking pop music. Scott Walker died yesterday aged 76, a man whose career took in more than most, from orchestral 60s tearjerkers to the songs of Jacques Brel, from 70s electronica to recording the sound of a piece of meat being hit repeatedly, and in there, central to the story, four numbered solo albums that redefined what a solo artist could do. RIP Scott Walker- one of those people who we shall not see the like of again.

Here are three Scott songs I’ve loved, all posted before but not for many years. Firstly, from The Walker Brothers 1975 re-union, a tremendous cabaret song, all self-pity and swelling string sections and that voice. There was a period twenty-odd years ago when I used to got to a pub quiz with a friend and two older blokes, both the age then that I am now. We joined forces to win the quiz one week and then stuck together. One of the older pair was a builder. He’d pick us up in his van and we’d drive to the quiz all singing along to No Regrets, a Best Of The Walker Brothers being the only tape in the van, No Regrets always getting the rewind.

No Regrets

This one, a B-side from 1966, is a small hours classic, a bassline, strings and a ton of reverb on the vocals. A man haunted in the verses and then tormented but alive when the chord change into the chorus hits home. ‘Someone called for you, but I hung up the phone, what could I say?’

After The Lights Go Out

This one, from 1978’s album of the same name, is a total curveball, funky and disco influenced with a bit of Bowie’s Low in there too- a complete commercial failure.

Nite Flights

>For Far Too Long I’ve Had Nothing New To Show To You

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Sometimes you need to wallow in some premium tearjerking schmaltz, and The Walker Brothers 1976 comeback No Regrets ticks all those boxes. Lacking the echo laden drama of their 60s work, the one-man vision of Scott’s solo albums and the avant garde nature of his later albums featuring someone punching a side of beef for percussion, this is wide screen, orchestral, Vegas-style pop. But still featuring those killer lines that Scott Walker can deliver- ‘I woke last night and spoke to you not thinking you were gone, and it felt so strange to lie awake alone’ being just one. Guitarist John Walker died recently aged 67.

Nearly two decades ago me and my then flatmate started going to a pub quiz. We hooked up with a pair of middle aged blokes, a builder and a carpet fitter, when we realised between us we had the required level of general knowledge and useless nonsense (especially for the music round) to win the quiz each Monday. Pete used to pick us up in his van, and we’d drive down to the pub, often with this song belting out. We must have looked pretty ridiculous, two twenty somethings and two forty somethings arriving in a builder’s van bellowing Scott’s song of lost love. I’m now a forty something, and Pete is a sixty something, and we still get to a pub quiz, despite having lost the other two along the way. Funny how such random encounters can lead to lifelong friendships being made. For the record, we don’t win very often anymore. Maybe we need some young blood.