If you liked my Harry Nilsson obsession, then you will LOVE my new crush on Scott Walker.

August 18, 2009

Scott Engel, John Maus, and Gary Leeds – neither brothers nor named Walker – formed The Walker Brothers in 1964 and were one of the only American bands to achieve huge success in the UK during the British Invasion.

I remember pulling the Walker Brothers anthology for a show I once DJ’ed at WNUR back in my college radio days and being enamored by their sound. There’s something beautiful and intense about the orchestral arrangements that typically back their songs, a fullness that mimics Phil Spector’s signature. Combine this with Scott “Walker’s” deep crooning voice with a terrific repertoire of folk and pop songs with covers ranging from Burt Bacharach to, in this case, Bob Dylan, the Walker Brothers pull off an almost narcotic effect that predates the psychedelic sound ushered into fashion by the Velvet Underground several years later.

Rumor has it that by 1965, after their second #1 hit “The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine Anymore,” their fan club was larger than the Beatles. I love this cover of Bob Dylan’s “Love Minus Zero / No Limit” and other covers including Curtis Mayfield’s “People Get Ready” and Tom Rush’s song “No Regrets,” the original you may remember from the Wonder Boys soundtrack.

By the late 60’s, the pressure of stardom sent Scott Walker into a crippling depression. He attempted suicide, sought refuge in a monastery, and officially broke up the band in 1968 with a brief resurrection in 1978.

Scott has since recorded solo material though very infrequently and sporadically. In fact, he’s released only three solo albums since 1980, including 2006’s dark, experimental album “The Drift,” and has cultivated a style that appeals to Nick Cave. I sometimes think of Walker as a Nick Cave’s Nick Cave in the way that comics used to call Larry David in his early stand-up years a “comic’s comic.” It’s not the easy listening of The Walker Brothers. In fact, I listened to Drift only once. It was like listening to a fucking nightmare.

Even so, Walker’s been going through a bit of a resurgence these last few years. His solo and Walker Brothers work was anthologized in a box set, someone released a documentary about his life, and even more recently he’s been collaborating with hot young indie bands like Bat for Lashes, where he appears on the song “The Big Sleep” from their 2009 album “Two Suns,” bound to be on countless top 10 lists at the end of 2009. And I guess unsurprisingly has been synced with this homegrown tribute to David Lynch’s “Mulholland Drive,” a movie that also gave me crazy fucking nightmares.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: