Scott Walker


Band members                             Related acts

- Scott Walker (aka Noel Scott Engel) -- vocals, guitar

 

 

 

- The Strangers

The Walker Brothers

 

 

 


 

Genre: pop

Rating: 2 stars **

Title:  Scott 2

Company: Philips

Catalog: SBL 7840
Year:
 1968

Country/State: Hamilton, Ohio

Grade (cover/record): VG+/VG+

Comments: UK pressing; minor cover and edge wear

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 1046

Price: $50.00

 

Scott Walker is one of those acts I just don't get.   He inspires fierce devotion among his fans (witness the number of on-line reviews of his recording catalog).   I'll admit Walker had a great voice and when it comes to the themes of isolation and personal pain, he's in a league of his own.   That said, 1968's "Scott 2" may have been his best selling solo album. but it just doesn't do a great deal for me.  I've listened to it dozens of times over the years and really tried to figure out its charms.  Never got there.

 

Produced by John Franz, the album was somewhat of a surprise in that it offered up a mixture of covers (including three Jacques Brel numbers) and four Walker originals.  As much as I've tried to figure out this one, I'll admit to abject failure.   I've read the reviews that go on and on about Walker's voice; sophistication; ability to tap into the inner human experience, his sense of weltschmerz, etc.   All of that is wasted on my plebian tastes.  In fact, the album's supposed sophistication has always struck me as being pompous navel gazing - the kind of stuff someone with too much time and money at their disposal can afford to indulge themselves in.   Musically most of this came off as  little more than cabaret ('Jackie', 'Next' and 'Plastic Palace People'), or over-orchestrated MOR film scores ('Best of Both World'', 'Wait Until Dark' and 'Come Next Spring').  It wasn't [particularly tuneful; in fact Walker's compositions were almost discordant at times.  Yes Walker had a nice voice and a gift for expressing inner pain and fragility.  He also had a knack for highlighting the dark corners of society ('Jackie', 'Next' and 'The Girls On the Street').  Unfortunately, at least for me, none of those attributes made for a particularly pleasant listening experience.  It's one of those album's I'd put on to shut down a house party.  Not that it any of this was a bad thing, but it wasn't conventional pop, and it certainly wasn't rock.   Anyone going into it with those expectations was liable to be in for a major disappointed.   As for his fans, well, it doesn't matter what I say, they'll still love Walker and one of them will want this album at a reasonable price.

 

In spite of the album's "adult" themes and the fact the lead-off single 'Jackie' was banned by the BBC, the album proved a major hit in the UK, where it topped the album charts for several weeks.   In the States it was a complete non-entity.

 

"Scott 2" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Jackie   (Jacques Brel - Gerard Jouannest - Mort Shuman) - 3:23

If you take 'Jackie' as being an attempt to be funny, or simply mine the campy factor (ah, Jacques Brel's view of life as a gigolo), then the lead off track is something you'll be able to get through without too much trouble.  What I've always found amazing is the fact it was tapped as a single.   Given social morals back in 1967, it seems amazing that a song that included references to pimps, prostitutes, opium, bordellos, phony virgins, drunkenness, and queers (Brel's use of the word, not mine), would have been tapped as a single, let alone any radio station would dare to play it.  In fact, the BBC banned it and American radio wouldn't go near the tune.    YouTube has a fascinating clip of Walker lip synching the tune for a television show:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XBkK3RhN73g    rating: *** stars

2.) Best of Both Worlds  (Mark London - Don Black) - 3:14

Geez, talk about over-the-top MOR ...   Walker's over-orchestrated slice of self-pity managed to make a hack like Engelbert Humperdinck sound like a head banger ...   It wasn't necessarily any better, but if you were going to subject yourself to this slice of aural sludge, then I'd suggest checking out the Lulu version of the tune.   rating: ** stars

3.) Black Sheep Boy   (Tim Hardin) - 2:19

In all fairness, Walker did a nice job on his cover of Tim Hardin's 'Black Sheep Boy'.   His deep, muscular voice was perfectly suited for anything that reeked of personal pain.  Added in a fantastic acoustic guitar solo and this was easily one of the album highlights.   rating: **** stars

4.) The Amorous Humphrey Plugg   (Neal Scott Engle) - 4:31

A rare Walker original (written under his given name), 'The Amorous Humphrey Plugg' seems to be a fan favorite, but to me it was in the same league as the kind of stuff Richard Harris was dumping on the public at the same time.  I guess if you liked the navel gazing embedded in something like 'MacArthur Park' then this was going to be right up your alley.  Yes, I get it.  Life was apparently tough for middle class folks living in suburbia.   I'll give it an extra star for the interesting melody and arrangement.    rating: *** stars

5.) Next   (Jacques Brel - Mort Shuman) - 2:50

Warning, 'Next' was another Jacques Brel number ...  Seriously cabaret here.  A tango apparently inspired by World War I  military brothel wagons ...   Geez, another tune full of references to gonorrhea queers, fags, and dead bodies.   Easy to see how the experience would have screwed up a young man.  How charming.    I remember the Alex Harvey Band doing a cover of this one.  As I recall, Harvey and company seemed to somehow miss the song's subtleties.    rating: *** stars

6.) The Girls from the Streets   (Neal Scott Engle) - 4:41

Another Walker original.   Walker certainly seemed to be fascinated by society's dark underbelly !!!  He also had an uncanny ability to make everything he touched sound deep, serious, and hyper depressing - this one's a perfect example of those talents.  I will admit that I loved the arrangement's accordion and the song included a hysterical lyric "things aren't so bad, they're just more wrong than right ..."   Again, this was just way too cabaret for my pedestrian tastes.   rating: *** stars

 

(side 2)
1.) Plastic Palace People
   (Neal Scott Engle) - 6:08

So I'll just come out and say I hate the first minute and a half of this tune.  Musically plodding and lyrically pompous and self-serving.  Is it another tune about middle class angst, or did he really write a song about a kid floating over Ohio in a balloon ?   Not sure I care one way or the other.   While the lyrical content didn't improve throughout the rest of the song, the melody at least showed glimmers of promise.   rating: *** stars

2.) Wait Until Dark   (Henry Mancini - Jay Livingston - Roy Evans) - 2:51  

It's a little before my time, but I think this one was written for a film staring Audrey Hepburn and Alan Arkin.  About all I can say is this heavily orchestrated ballad was sleep inducing.   rating: ** stars

3.) The Girls and the Dogs   (Jacques Brel - Gerard Jouannest - Mort Shuman) - 3:10

Please, no more Jacques Brel cabaret moves ...   not the most PC song I've ever heard and I'm surprised the nasty misogynist lyrics didn't get Walker his head handed to him on a platter by women's rights groups.   rating: ** stars

4.) Windows of the World  (Hal David - Burt Bacharach) - 4:25

Cocktail jazz moves.    I don't care how good Walker's voice was, getting through this MOR slagheap was simply painful.   If you've got to hear this one, go with the Dionne Warwick version which at least strips away some of the angst that Walker dumped on it.    rating: ** stars

5.) The Bridge   (Neal Scott Engle - 2:50

I remember seeing this one described as "another somber and haunting Walker tale".   That's pretty apt which means it'll appeal to English majors, librarians, and folks with deep and dark depressive streaks through their personalities.   It was pretty in an MOR fashion, but by this point you had to wonder if an up-tempo, lightweight rocker would simply kill Walker ?   rating: ** stars

6.) Come Next Spring  (Lenny Adelson) - 3:24

Tony Bennett sang the original tune for a mid-'50s film starring Ann Sheridan and Steve Cochran.   Never thought I'd say something like this, but I actually like the Bennett version better than this one.  rating: ** stars

 

'Jackie' was actually released as a single before the LP came out.  In the UK and Spain the 45 was paired with the Walker-penned non-LP song 'The Plague'.  Typically strange, but with a real rock feel, 'The Plague' was better than anything on the album.   In Holland it was backed by the non-LP track 'Amsterdam'.  In Japan it was paired with 'Wait Until Dark'.

 

- 1967's 'Jackie' b/w 'The Plague' (Philips catalog number BF 1628)

- 1967's 'Jackie' b/w 'Amsterdam' (Philips catalog number 326 843 BF)

 

 

 

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