Scott Walker

Scott WalkerScott Walker (born Noel Scott Engel on January 9, 1943) is an American-British singer-songwriter, record producer, and the former lead singer of The Walker Brothers. Despite being American, Walker’s success has largely come in the United Kingdom, where his first four solo albums reached the top ten. Walker has lived in the UK since 1965; he became a British citizen in 1970. He continues to release solo material and is currently signed to 4AD.

1967-1974: Solo work

Scott Walker shed The Walker Brothers’ mantle and began a solo career in a style clearly glimpsed in Images, the Walkers’ last album. To this, he added risqué recordings of Jacques Brel songs, translated by Mort Shuman (who was also responsible for the hit musical Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris). The influence of Brel is important as regards Walker’s songwriting but should not be over-stated. His vocal style remained consistent throughout this period. Walker’s own original songs of this period were influenced by Brel as he explored European musical roots while expressing his own American experience. He was also reaching a new maturity as a recording artist.

In 1968 Walker threw himself into intense study of contemporary and classical music, which included a sojourn in Quarr Abbey, a monastery on the Isle of Wight, to study Gregorian chant. His own songs gradually coursed into Lieder and classical musical modes.

Scott Walker’s early solo career was successful in Britain; his first three albums, titled Scott (1967), Scott 2 (1968) and Scott 3 (1969), all sold in large numbers, Scott 2 topping the British charts. There were also early indications that this concentrated attention was not conducive to Walker’s emotional well-being. He became reclusive and somewhat distanced from his audience. During this time, he combined his earlier teen appeal with a darker, more idiosyncratic approach that had been hinted at in songs like “Orpheus” on the Images album. Walker drove a fine line between classic ballads, his own compositions, and Brel covers.

At the peak of his fame in 1969, he was given his own BBC TV series, Scott, featuring solo Walker performances of ballads, big band standards and introductions of his own and Brel compositions. Footage of the show is currently very rare as recordings were not archived. Walker’s fourth solo album was an LP of songs from the TV series entitled Scott: Scott Walker Sings Songs from his TV Series.

Walker released his fifth solo LP, Scott 4, in 1969. This was his first to be made up entirely of self-penned material, as the ‘standards’ and Brel covers were gone. The album failed to chart and was deleted soon after. It has been speculated that the decision to release the album under his birth name Noel Scott Engel contributed to its chart failure. All subsequent re-issues of the album have been released under his stage name.

In recent interviews, Walker has suggested that by his third solo LP, a self-indulgent complacency had crept into his choice of material. Starting with ‘Til the Band Comes In (1970) – specifically the latter half of the album, which featured original material on side A and covers on side B – the early ’70s saw Walker revert to cover versions of popular film tunes and a serious flirtation with the country and western scene. The Moviegoer (1972), Any Day Now (1973), Stretch (1973), and We Had It All (1974) feature no original material whatsoever. In the 2006 documentary Scott Walker: 30 Century Man, Walker describes these as his “lost years”, creatively.

1978-2003: Return to solo works

Walker’s recording activity has been sporadic since the late 1970s. In 1981, interest in his work was stimulated by the compilation Fire Escape in the Sky: The Godlike Genius of Scott Walker, containing tracks selected by Julian Cope, which reached number 14 on the UK Independent Chart. Walker signed a long-term multi album deal with Virgin Records and released Climate of Hunter in 1984. The album furthered the complex approach Walker had established on Nite Flights and was met with critical praise but small sales. Plans to tour were made but never came to fruition. A second album for Virgin was rumoured to be in the works with Brian Eno but were not completed. Soon after Walker was dropped by the label.

Walker spent the late 80s away from music and did not return to public attention until the early 90s when his solo work and Walker Brothers was critically reappraised again. During this period Walker’s first four studio albums were issued on CD for the first time and the compilation album No Regrets – The Best of Scott Walker and The Walker Brothers 1965–1976 hit #4 on the UK Albums Chart.

Walker formally returned to music with 1995’s Tilt released on Fontana Records.

In tangential developments, in 1993 Walker co-wrote and co-performed (with Goran Bregović) the single “Man From Reno” for the soundtrack of the film Toxic Affair. In 1996, he recorded the Bob Dylan song “I Threw It All Away” under the direction of Nick Cave for inclusion in the soundtrack for the film To Have and to Hold. Three years later, he recorded the David Arnold song “Only Myself to Blame”, for the soundtrack of the Bond film The World Is Not Enough. That same year, he wrote and produced the soundtrack for the Léos Carax film Pola X, which was released as an album. Scott Walker wrote and produced two songs for Ute Lemper the following year, and went on to produce Pulp’s 2001 album We Love Life (whose track Bad Cover Version includes a mocking reference to Walker’s poor covers on “The second side of ‘Til The Band Comes In”).

In 2000, he curated the London South Bank Centre’s annual summer live music festival, Meltdown, which has a tradition of celebrity curators. He did not perform at Meltdown himself, but wrote the music for The Richard Alston Dance Project item Thimblerigging.

In October 2003, Walker was given an award for his contribution to music by Q magazine. This was presented by Jarvis Cocker of Pulp, and Walker received a standing ovation at the presentation. This award had been presented only twice before, the first time to Phil Spector, and the second to Brian Eno. The release of a retrospective box set, 5 Easy Pieces, comprising five themed discs spanning Walker’s work with The Walker Brothers, his solo career (including film soundtrack work), and the two pieces composed for Ute Lemper, followed soon after.

2006-present

The British independent label 4AD Records signed Walker in early 2004 and his first album in 11 years, The Drift, was released on 8 May 2006 to strong reviews. In recent interviews, he appears more at ease with media attention. He reveals a wish to produce albums more frequently and hints at significant changes in material if and when it suits him. Walker mentioned the possibility of touring again with a compact, five-piece band in an interview with The Wire in 2006. Critical acclaim for The Drift garnered a Metacritic score of 85, making it one of the most successfully reviewed albums of 2006.

Walker has spoken about his lyrical technique; he compares his technique of assembling images that are sometimes seemingly disparate from each other and unconnected into short blocks of text to that of “a general, assembling troops on the battlefield”. The Wire has noted that the short blocks of white-on-black text presented in the CD insert is reflective of this. The roots of this compositional technique are apparent as early as the Scott Walker tracks on Nite Flites – the lyrics insert for the album clearly feature the technique, albeit with a black text on a white background. In a 1984 interview he spoke of difficulty in writing songs: “I don’t write songs for pleasure. I can only write when I have to — like I’m under contract, or to finish an album.”

In June 2006, Mojo and radio honored Scott Walker with the MOJO Icon Award: “Voted for by Mojo readers and Mojo4music users, the recipient of this award has enjoyed a spectacular career on a global scale”. It was presented by Phil Alexander.

A documentary film, Scott Walker: 30 Century Man, was completed in 2006 by New York film director Stephen Kijak (Cinemania and Never Met Picasso). Interviews were recorded with David Bowie (executive producer of the film), Radiohead, Sting, Gavin Friday and many musicians associated with Walker over the years. The World Premiere of Scott Walker: 30 Century Man took place as part of the 50th London Film Festival. When The Independent released its list of “Ten must-see films” at the 50th London Film Festival, Scott Walker: 30 Century Man, was among them. A documentary on Walker containing a substantial amount of footage from the film was shown on BBC1 in May 2007 as part of the Imagine… strand, presented by Alan Yentob.

Walker released “Darkness” as part of Plague Songs, an album of songs for the Margate Exodus project, a re-telling of the Book of Exodus, the story of Moses and his search for the Promised Land. Ten singer-songwriters were commissioned by Artangel to write and record a song inspired by one of the ten biblical plagues. Walker’s evocation of “Darkness” appears as the ninth.

On 24 September 2007, Walker released And Who Shall Go to the Ball? And What Shall Go to the Ball? as a limited, never-to-be-re-pressed edition. The 24-minute instrumental work was performed by the London Sinfonietta with solo cellist Philip Sheppard as music to a performance by London-based CandoCo Dance Company. The recording is currently available.

From 13 to 15 November 2008, Drifting and Tilting: The Songs of Scott Walker was staged at The Barbican, in London. It comprised eight songs, two from Tilt – “Farmer in the City” and “Patriot (a single)” – and the rest from The Drift: “Cossacks Are”, “Jesse”, “Clara (Benito’s Dream)”, “Buzzers”, “Jolson and Jones” and “Cue”. Each song was presented in a music-theatre manner, with the vocal parts taken by a number of singers, including Jarvis Cocker, Damon Albarn and Dot Allison.

Walker collaborated with Bat for Lashes on the song “The Big Sleep” from her 2009 album Two Suns.

Walker wrote the score for the ROH2 production of Jean Cocteau’s 1932 play Duet for One, which was staged in the Linbury Studio in June 2011.

On 24 September 2012, 4AD announced that Walker’s new album Bish Bosch will be released on December 3. ~ Wikipedia

Tracks played on Psychedelicized…

    From 1967 album Scott
    Scott

  • Amsterdam
  • Angelica
  • Mathilde
  • Motague Terrace (In Blue)
  • My Death
  • The Lady Came From Baltimore


  • From 1968 album Scott 2
    Scott 2

  • Best Of Both Worlds
  • Black Sheep Boy
  • Jackie
  • Next
  • Plastic Palace People
  • The Amorous Humphrey Plugg
  • The Girls And The Dogs
  • The Girls From The Streets


  • From 1969 album Scott 3
    Scott 3

  • 30th Century Man


  • From 1969 album Scott 4
    Scott 4

  • The Seventh Seal
  • The World’s Strongest Man
  • Hero Of The War
  • The Old Man’s Back Again (Dedicated to the Neo-Stalinist Regime)
  • Duchess
  • Get Behind Me
  • Rhymes Of Goodbye


  • From 1970 album ‘Til The Band Comes In
    'Til The Band Comes In

  • Jean The Machine
  • Prologue^Little Things (That Keep Us Together)