Scott Walker – The Collection 1967-1970 (2013) [Qobuz 24-96]

Scott Walker – The Collection 1967-1970 (2013)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/96 kHz | Time – 193:02 minutes | 3,88 GB | Genre: Pop, Experimental, Singer/Songwriter
Official Digital Download – Source: Qobuz.com | Front covers

Scott Walker is an American singer-songwriter, composer and record producer. He is noted for his distinctive baritone voice and for the unorthodox career path which has taken him from 1960s pop icon to 21st century experimental musician. Originally coming to fame in the mid-1960s singing orchestral pop ballads as the frontman of The Walker Brothers, Walker went on to a solo career, with a series of acclaimed albums, balancing a light entertainment/MOR ballad approach with increasing artistic innovations in arrangement and writing perspective. This Hi-Res collection features his five albums: Scott, 2, 3, 4 and ‘Til the Band Comes In.

Scott Walker – Scott (1967/2013)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/96 kHz | Time – 40:07 minutes | 818 MB
Official Digital Download – Source: | Front cover

Scott Walker’s success as a teen idol singer of Spectorish ballads with the Walker Brothers in no way prepared listeners for the mordant, despairing lyrics of his solo debut. To compound the surprise, he does his best to imitate the vocal girth of Tony Bennett and Frank Sinatra on this mix of original tunes and covers, which also features sweeping, bloated orchestral arrangements. It was hardly rock, and pop of a most oddball sort, but it found a surprisingly large audience — in Britain, anyway, where it reached the Top Three in 1967. Poke behind the velvet curtain of the languid MOR arrangements, and one finds a surprisingly literate existentialist at the helm of these proceedings. His lyrical nuances were probably lost on his audience of predominately teenage girls, though they’ve earned him a small cult audience that endures to this day. Besides presenting three of his own compositions, Walker covers tunes by Weill/Mann, Tim Hardin, and Andre & Dory Previn on this album, as well as three songs by his favorite writer, Jacques Brel. Highlights include his exquisitely anguished rendition of Brel’s classic “Amsterdam” and his dramatic cover of the early-’60s Toni Fisher pop ballad “The Big Hurt.”

Tracklist:
01 – Mathilde
02 – Montague Terrace (In Blue)
03 – Angelica
04 – The Lady Came From Baltimore
05 – When Joanna Loved Me
06 – My Death
07 – The Big Hurt
08 – Such A Small Love
09 – You’re Gonna Hear From Me
10 – Through A Long And Sleepless Night
11 – Always Coming Back To You
12 – Amsterdam

Scott Walker – Scott 2 (1968/2013)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/96 kHz | Time – 43:21 minutes | 893 MB
Official Digital Download – Source: | Front cover

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.”

Tracklist:
01 – Jackie
02 – Best Of Both Worlds
03 – Black Sheep Boy
04 – The Amorous Humphrey Plugg
05 – Next
06 – The Girls From The Streets
07 – Plastic Palace People
08 – Wait Until Dark
09 – The Girls And The Dogs
10 – Windows Of The World
11 – The Bridge
12 – Come Next Spring

Scott Walker – Scott 3 (1969/2013)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/96 kHz | Time – 36:50 minutes | 742 MB
Official Digital Download – Source: | Front cover

Scott Walker’s final British Top Ten album was the first to be dominated by his own songwriting. Ten of the 13 tunes on this 1969 LP are originals; the remaining three, naturally, were written by one of his chief inspirations, Jacques Brel. There are some interesting moments here. “Big Louise” talks about a hefty prostitute with shocking explicitness for a pop star album of the era. “Copenhagen” (like much of Walker’s ’60s work) foreshadows David Bowie. “Funeral Tango” is a particularly vicious Brel song. “30 Century Man” is an uncommonly folkish and focused tune for Walker. “We Came Through” is an oddball cavalry charge featuring one of his occasional forays into Ennio Morricone spaghetti Western-like production. The tension between Walker’s dense, foreboding lyrics and orchestral production is unusual, to say the least. But too often, it’s too difficult to penetrate Walker’s insights through Wally Scott’s string-drenched production. It shrouds the lyrics in a fog that’s often too syrupy to justify the effort needed to fight through it.

Tracklist:
01 – It’s Raining Today
02 – Copenhagen
03 – Rosemary
04 – Big Louise
05 – We Came Through
06 – Butterfly
07 – Two Ragged Soldiers
08 – 30 Century Man
09 – Winter Night
10 – Two Weeks Since You’ve Gone
11 – Sons Of
12 – Funeral Tango
13 – If You Go Away

Scott Walker – Scott 4 (1969/2013)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/96 kHz | Time – 32:03 minutes | 670 MB
Official Digital Download – Source: | Front cover

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.

Tracklist:
01 – The Seventh Seal
02 – On Your Own Again
03 – The World’s Strongest Man
04 – Angels Of Ashes
05 – Boy Child
06 – Hero Of The War
07 – The Old Man’s Back Again (Dedicated To The Neo-Stalinist Regime)
08 – Duchess
09 – Get Behind Me
10 – Rhymes Of Goodbye

Scott Walker – ‘Til the Band Comes In (1970/2013)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/96 kHz | Time – 40:40 minutes | 854 MB
Official Digital Download – Source: | Front cover

The rediscovery of Scott Walker, hitherto the Pop Star Who Time Forgot, was one of the most gratifying events of the mid-’90s. No man blessed with a voice like that, taste like that, talent like that, should ever have been consigned to the creaky oblivion of oldies radio. But one needs to tread carefully when plunging into the cult. Even at his best, and particularly at his most recent, Walker can be an excruciatingly difficult taste to acquire. Move into the early-’70s midpoint of his output, and oftentimes it’s simply painful. Never regarded among Scott Walker’s finest efforts and a resounding flop when it first appeared in 1971, ‘Til the Band Comes In is, retrospectively, the most shocking of all the singer’s early albums. His first four, after all, are dramatic slabs of MOR-noir, crucial experiences for anybody eager to discover Brel, Bergman, and a taste for truly surreal pop tones; by their standards alone, surely album number five should have traveled even further astray? It doesn’t. Two tracks culled for the It’s Raining Today compilation, “Thanks for Chicago Mr. James” and “Joe,” are this album’s sole concessions to such matters as reputation. A year earlier, the BBC gave Walker his own TV series, with the assurance that he would concentrate his tonsils on ballads and standards. He fulfilled the brief admirably, and released a soundtrack album to prove it. Unfortunately, ‘Til the Band Comes In suggests he never got the saccharine out of his system. He even brings TV guest Esther Ofarim back into the action, but morbid curiosity and an incomprehensible fondness for “Cinderella Rockefeller” are surely the only reasons anyone could want to check out her solo contribution to the set. There is a reasonable rendering of Jimmie Rodgers’ “It’s Over,” aptly closing the album on a merciful note, but while Walker’s first four albums remain essential listening, and the TV LP at least has its moments, Til the Band Comes In is best left waiting at the stage door. Some “lost classics” were lost with good reason.

Tracklist:
01 – Prologue
02 – Little Things (That Keep Us Together)
03 – Joe
04 – Thanks For Chicago Mr. James
05 – Long About Now
06 – Time Operator
07 – Jean The Machine
08 – Cowbells Shakin’
09 – Til The Band Comes In
10 – The War Is Over (Sleepers – Epilogue)
11 – Stormy
12 – The Hills Of Yesterday
13 – Reuben James
14 – What Are You Doing The Rest Of Your Life
15 – It’s Over

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