Scott Walker – Scott 4 (1969)

AllMusic Review: Walker dropped out of the British Top Ten with his fourth album, but the result was probably his finest ’60s LP. While the tension between the bloated production and his introspective, ambitious lyrics remains, much of the over-the-top bombast of the orchestral arrangements has been reined in, leaving a relatively stripped-down approach that complements his songs rather than smothering them. This is the first Walker album to feature entirely original material, and his songwriting is more lucid and cutting. Several of the tracks stand among his finest. “The Seventh Seal,” based upon the classic film by Ingmar Bergman, features remarkably ambitious (and relatively successful) lyrics set against a haunting Ennio Morricone-style arrangement. “The Old Man’s Back Again” also echoes Morricone, and tackles no less ambitious a lyrical palette; “dedicated to the neo-Stalinist regime,” the “old man” of this song was supposedly Josef Stalin. “Hero of the War” is also one of Walker’s better vignettes, serenading his war hero with a cryptic mix of tribute and irony. Other songs show engaging folk, country, and soul influences that were largely buried on his previous solo albums. — Richie Unterberger

Track Listing:

Side A
No. Title Length
1. “The Seventh Seal” 4:58
2. “On Your Own Again” 1:48
3. “The World’s Strongest Man” 2:21
4. “Angels of Ashes” 4:22
5. “Boy Child” 3:38
Side B
No. Title Length
1. “Hero of the War” 2:29
2. “The Old Man’s Back Again (Dedicated to the Neo-Stalinist Regime)” 3:43
3. “Duchess” 2:51
4. “Get Behind Me” 3:14
5. “Rhymes of Goodbye” 3:04

 

Schill Score: 8.25/10

 

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Scott Walker – Scott 2 (1968)

AllMusic Review: Although Walker’s second album was his biggest commercial success, actually reaching number one in Britain, it was not his greatest artistic triumph. His taste remains eclectic, encompassing Bacharach/David, Tim Hardin, and of course his main man Jacques Brel (who is covered three times on this album). And his own songwriting efforts hold their own in this esteemed company. “The Girls From the Streets” and “Plastic Palace People” show an uncommonly ambitious lyricist cloaked behind the over-the-top, schmaltzy orchestral arrangements, one more interested in examining the seamy underside of glamour and romance than celebrating its glitter. The Brel tune “Next” must have lifted a few teenage mums’ eyebrows with its not-so-hidden hints of homosexuality and abuse. Another Brel tune, “The Girl and the Dogs,” is less controversial, but hardly less nasty in its jaded view of romance. Some of the material is not nearly as memorable, however, and the over the top show ballad production can get overbearing. The album included his first Top 20 U.K. hit, “Jackie.” — Richie Unterberger

Track Listing:

Side one
No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. “Jackie” Jacques Brel, Gérard Jouannest and Mort Shuman 3:23
2. “Best of Both Worlds” Mark London and Don Black 3:14
3. “Black Sheep Boy” Tim Hardin 2:39
4. “The Amorous Humphrey Plugg” Noel Scott Engel 4:31
5. “Next” Jacques Brel and Mort Shuman 2:50
6. “The Girls from the Streets” Noel Scott Engel 4:11
Side two
No. Title Writer(s) Length
7. “Plastic Palace People” Noel Scott Engel 6:06
8. “Wait Until Dark” Henry Mancini, Jay Livingston and Ray Evans 2:59
9. “The Girls and the Dogs” Jacques Brel, Gérard Jouannest and Mort Shuman 3:10
10. “Windows of the World” Hal David and Burt Bacharach 4:25
11. “The Bridge” Noel Scott Engel 2:50
12. “Come Next Spring” Lenny Adelson 3:24

 

Schill Score: 6/10

 

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