Walker Brothers, The

Band members                             Related acts

  line up 1 (1964-78)

- Gary Wright (aka Gary Leeds) -- vocals, drums, percussion

- John Walker (aka John Maus) (RIP 2011) -- vocals, guitar

- Scott Walker (aka Noel Scott Engle) -- vocals, bass


  backing musicians: (1975)

- B.J Cole -- pedal steel guitar

- Steve Grey -- piano

- Ritchie Hitchcock -- guitar

- Chris Karan -- percussion

- Suzanne Lynch -- backing vocals

- Dave McRae -- piano

- Barry Morgan -- drums

- Alan Parker -- guitar

- Judd Proctor -- acoustic guitar

- Daryl Runswick -- bass

- Len Walker -- acoustic guitar

- Doug Wright -- drums, percussion


  backing musicians: (1976)

- Brian Bennett -- drums

- Roger Churchyard -- violin

- Jeff Daley -- sax

- Tristi Fry -- percussion

- Steve Grey -- piano

- Alan Jones -- bass

- Paul Keough -- guitar

- Dave McRae -- keyboards

- John Mealing -- piano

- Barry Morgan -- drums

- Alan Parker -- guitar

- Simon Philips -- drums

- Alan Skidmore -- sax

- Dave Wilus -- sax




- The Strangers

- Gary Walker and the Rain

- Scott Walker (solo efforts)





Genre: pop

Rating: 3 stars ***

Title:  No Regrets

Company:  GTO

Catalog: GTLP 007

Country/State: US

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: UK pressing; includes original inner sleeve

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 264

Price: $25.00


Best time to play:  not very often


1975's "No Regrets" marked a true Walker Brothers reunion - their first studio set since 1967's "Images" and their first official release since 1968's "The Walker Brothers In Japan".  The previous eight years hadn't been particularly successful for any of the three so you couldn't blame them for latching on to the hopefully title.  Unfortunately the title may have been the best thing surrounding this disappointing attempt at a comeback.  Produced by Geoff Calver and the band, the collection has always struck me as sounding rushed and uninspired.  The absence of a single original song (guess they were each holding on to their own material for planned solo efforts), underscored the album's flat and uninspired feel.  The album was also disappointing for its focus - way too many country-tinged numbers ('Boulder To Birmingham' and 'No Regrets') and an equal number of bland ballads ('Lover's Lullaby', 'Got To Have You', and 'Lover's').   Scott's voice remained instantly recognizable (you were left wondering how a skinny white guy could have such an amazing instrument), but the real surprise was John.  Yeah, he wasn't given an great material, but he made the most of what was there, turning in some of the album's best performances including a reggae remake of 'He'll Break Your Heart '.


"No Regrets" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) No Regrets   (Tom Rush) - 5:47

Taking the Tom Rush-penned title track and substituting a country twang for the original's folk leanings wasn't the most original thing they ever did.  Still, the end result was a decent country-tinged, mid-tempo number with a nice hook.  'No Regrets' would have been even better without the brief pedal steel guitar and the heavy orchestration, but once Scott's amazingly deep voice kicked in, the song improved considerably and it got better with repeated listenings.  YouTube has a couple of clips of the trio half-hearted lip-synching the song.  Best of the lot is:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C7PuSl7AbUo   rating: **** stars

2.) Hold An Old Friend's Hand   (Donna Weiss) - 3:47

Probably best described as counttry-soul. I'll readily admit to enjoying the low-keyed, breezy 'Hold An Old Friend's Hand'.  Once of the best tracks on the album.   rating: *** stars

3,) Boulder To Birmingham   (Emmylou Harris - Bill Danoff) - 3:55

So Emmylou Harris co-wrote 'Boulder To Birmingham' with the Starland Vocal Club's Bill Danoff.  I never liked the Starland Vocal Band version, but this version is even more painful, basucally turning it into a country-tinged dirge.  She was credited in the liner notes, but it sure sounded like Harris was featured on the backing vocals.   rating: ** stars

4.) Walking In the Sun   (Jeff Barry) - 3:28

'Waiting In the Sun' had a laidback, easygoing country-rock feel and was probably one of two songs that should have been tapped as a single.  Even though it wasn't tapped as a single, the band seemingly made in video for the track.  Ever seen Scott Walker smile ?   Here's your chance.   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O9qt5xfYtUo  rating: *** stars

5.) Lover's Lullaby   (Janis Ian) - 3:52

The thought of The Walkers doing a Janis Ian cover sends a shiver of dread down my spine - the thought of two of music's most depressed personalities (Scott and Ian) cross pollinating ...  Yeah, given a very MOR-ish arrangement and one of Scott's can-I-sound-like-Perry-Como vocals, 'Lover's Lullaby'  was pretty bad.     rating: ** stars


(side 2)

1.) Got To Have You   (Kris Kristofferson) - 3:55

A stark, overly sentimental ballad, 'Got To Have You' was one of those tracks that sends Scott Walker fans into ecstacy.  It sends me to the kitchen to grab a beer.  rating: ** stars

2.) He'll Break Your Heart   (Curtis Mayfield - Jerry Butler) - 5:10

I'll give them credit for trying something different - They'd recorded 'He'll Break Your Heart ' earlier, but this time around they set the old Impressions song to a reggae beat.  John didn't sound entirely comfortable on the song, but it was different and the punchy horns were cool.   rating: *** stars

3.) Everything That Touches You   (Michael Kamen) - 4:08

Penned by the late Michael Kamen (of New York Rock and Roll Ensemble fame), 'Everything That Touches You' was a pretty, but largely anonymous MOR ballad.  The song highlights were probably the brief slide guitar solo and the group's blended harmonies.   rating: *** stars

4.) Lover's  (Mickey Newbury) -  3:01

Featuring another John lead vocal, their stark cover of Mickey Newbury's 'Lover's' sounded like a margarine commercial.  Yech.  rating: ** stars

5.) Burn Our Bridges   (Jerry Ragaway - Laura Laurie) - 3:31

Holy crap - an upbeat, pop, radio-ready song ...   what the hell were The Walker Brothers thinking ? Without a doubt, 'Burn Our Bridge' had the most commercial potential on the album.  Shame it wasn't tapped as the single (and it would have been even better without the overwhelming orchestration).  rating: **** stars


As mentioned, GTO released a quickly forgotten single off the LP:


- 1975's 'No Regrets' b/w 'Remember Me' (GTO catalog number GT 42)


The Walkers actually did some promotional work for the album and backed by the top-10 UK title track single the parent album hit # 49 on the British charts.   The album didn't even see an American release.




Genre: pop

Rating: 2 stars **

Title:  Lines

Company:  GTO

Catalog: GTLP 0014

Country/State: US

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: UK pressing

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 329

Price: $20.00


Best time to play:  not very often


I'll tell you their "comeback" album "No Regrets" was difficult to get through and 1977's "Lines" was an even bigger challenge.  Co-produced by Geoff Calver and Scott Walker, the album found The Walkers surrounding themselves with a collection of middle-of-the-road and hyper-sensitive country-rock tinged ballads.  Once again there weren't any original songs, the trio availing themselves to an odd array of known and then up-and-coming quantities, including a song from Jesse Winchester.  For his part Scott Walker's voice continued to be a unique instrument, but he continually wasted those talents on some of the crappiest songs imaginable.  Giving credit where due, John Walker was at least willing to take on an occasional upbeat tune (Randy Newman's 'Have You Seen My Baby' and 'First Day'). And as for Gary ...  well he was shown on the cover, but for all intents and purposes was all but absent from these grooves.  If you were an English major, or borderline suicidal, this was probably a collection that brought you some self-pity inflected comfort, but most listeners were going to find it sappy and irritating.   


"Lines" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Lines   (Jerry Fuller) - 

Geez, Scott Walker's voice remained instantly recognizable and lots of folks like The Walkers' cover of this Jerry Fuller tune.  It's certainly dark and disturbing (I've always taken it to be about fighting coke addiction), but to my ears it sounded way too MOR-ish and even borderline cloying.  Fuller recorded the song himself and scored a top-100 country single a couple of years later.   rating: ** stars

2.) Taking It All In Stride  (Tom Snow) - 

It was nice to hear someone other than Scott on lead vocals - in this case John.  Unfortunately Tom Snow's 'Taking It All In Stride' sounded like one of those faceless radio-ready ballads that the Wilson sisters would have recorded with Heart, or an song that would have been  slapped onto a "B" film soundtrack.   rating: *** stars

3.) Inside of You   (Tom Jarvis) - 

Talk about a stark  song ...  'Inside of You' framed the trio's voices on a haunting piano-based melody with a touch of Steve Grey's orchestration.  Unlike most of this album, 'Inside of You' was actually pretty good.   rating: *** stars

4.) Have You Seen My Baby   (Randy Newman) - 

Thankfully their cover of Randy Newman's 'Have You Seen My Baby' injected a bit of energy into the proceedings.  Nah, it wasn't a great performance, but at least it was upbeat with John's vocal showing a bit of enthusiasm.  No idea what the end-of-song moaning was about.    rating: *** stars

5.) We're All Alone   (Boz Scaggs) - 

The Scaggs original was pretty MOR-ish (and a gigantic radio hit), but The Walkers' cover managed to lose the song's commercial edge in favor of plodding MOR sentimentality.   Borderline unlistenable which makes you wonder what GTO was thinking about when they decided to tap it as the leadoff single.    rating: ** stars. 


(side 2)

1.) Too Many Rivers To Cross   (Jimmy Cliff) - 

How they managed to turn the classic Jimmy Cliff song into a forgettable dirge remains a complete mystery to me ...   Possibly the worst cover of 'Too Many Rivers To Cross' I've ever heard.  rating; * star

2.) First Day   (A. Dayam) - 

If backed into a corner and forced to pick a favorite performance off the album, I guess I'd give the nod to this country-rocker.  Again, it wasn't a great song, buy John at least brought a bit of enthusiasm to the performance and it was nice to hear them getting away from the doom-and-gloom vibe that permeated most of the album.  rating: *** stars

3.) Brand New Tennessee Waltz   (Jesse Winchester) - 

I can remember Jesse Winchester attracting some big time media attention in the mid-'70s which probably explains why The Walkers decided to cover one of his better known tracks. Unfortunately country simply wasn't the right genre for Scott's voice.  Stick with the Winchester original.   rating: ** stars

4.) Hard To Be Friends   (Larry Murray) - 

Completely forgettable country tune - not even Scott's voice could save this onerating: ** stars

5.) Dreaming As One   (David Palmer - William Smith) - 

Pretty ballad with some nice acoustic guitar, but by the time who cared ?  rating: *** stars


As mentioned, the album spun off a pair of English singles (the album never saw a US release).



- 1976's 'Lines' b/w 'First Day'  (DJM catalog number GT 67)

- 1976's 'We're All Alone' b/w 'Have You Seen My Baby' (DJM catalog number 78)


Can I recommend this one?  Nope - not sure anyone would ...  grab some of their older, classic catalog instead.