Wednesday, August 31, 2011

1969-Scott Sings Songs From His T.V. Series

                                                                   Click for Scott Sings

Scott Walker had a short lived TV series on the BBC in 1969 in which he performed standards, current hits, as well as some of his own compositions with orchestral accompaniment.  The television show format seemed to have naturally pushed Walker closer into the mainstream arena of a Las Vegas style performer, though this was not completely out of character as Scott had previously expressed admiration for singers like Jack Jones, Frank Sinatra and Mark Murphy. This album, released in the summer of 1969, is one of the only remaining artifacts related to the TV program, as the original tapes of the show were not archived but taped over (commonplace practice of the BBC at the time). Scott Sings Songs From His TV Series is not available on CD supposedly because Walker has not agreed to its re-release. I would venture he's unhappy with its contents of somewhat sedate adult contemporary cover songs, feeling it is not representative of his work as a whole, particularly in light of his more recent career, which has taken him further into avant-garde experimentation.

Walker fans tend to be split between those who appreciate exclusively his boundary pushing existential compositions and Jacques Brel covers and are somewhat embarrassed, even apologetic about his more traditional crooner side and those who dig the whole deal, including his tendencies towards what Julian Cope described derisively as MOR (middle of the road).  Scott Walker is one of my favorite singers and I love hearing him sing anything, but definitely the way he both did and did not fit into the whole lounge singer niche (or as Sinatra would have it saloon singer), is a large part of his attraction for me, the contradictions, even at times incongruity of the styles he embraced, makes the man and his music even more fascinating and compelling.  There really is no one quite like him.

This record appeals to me for a number of different reasons, not the least of which is that Walker is in fine voice and gives heartfelt readings of all the songs included.  And these songs almost all have that lonely and blue torch singer feel that obviously had a pull on Scott, whether he admits it now or not. Then there's the gatefold cover itself, capturing Walker at the height of his late 60's coolness, and make no mistake he was definitely one of the hippest looking cats of that, or any time. Ultimately the best way to appreciate this album IS on vinyl, so you have the division of sides to break up the, at times, overly consistent mood, enjoying each 16 to 18 minutes side of music separately while perusing the album cover.  Sitting on your floor you open up the gatefold cover, and move the stylus over to Side One, hear a slight crackle as needle reads wax, and then the music starts up and fills the room and you slowly go over the notes and photos while listening.  This post, with the gatefold album pics and a digital copy of the record, is an approximation of that experience for your hopeful enjoyment.

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