Saturday, July 7, 2012

Scottmania, Part Two

Scott 2 is the Scott Walker album that I usually end up listening the most. Scott 2 followed soon after the debut solo effort and was equally successful on the charts. The album has a similar structure as the first album. There are contemporary covers (Hal David and Burt Bacharach's Windows of the World, for instance), film music (Mancini's Wait Until Dark), Jacques Brel songs, and original material.

Now that I think about it, it could be that my affection towards Scott 2 has something to do with the fact that the album contains slightly more dangerous themes than the first album. Jackie is a good example of Scott moving towards more violent topics. In a nutshell the song is a tribute to a decadent and destructive yet exciting lifestyle. Jacques Brel's original version was called Jacky and the song indicates Brel's fascination towards the theme of decadence. The theme also intrigued Scott and he seems to enjoy a great deal putting himself in the main character's shoes. In the end, I don't understand what is wrong with singing about controversial topics. It is just a song... Even though it certainly reveals something about the dark depths of the human soul.

Jackie was released as a single and banned by the BBC. I wonder what BBC would have thought about Next, an even more violent Jacque Brel song from the same album (Scott 2). The lyrical content is in fact so horrifying that the whole thing turns upside down and becomes a pretty entertaining song – at least to me. On the surface it is a classy and dramatic tango, rendered flawlessly by Scott, but the lyrics tell a story that will make your blood turn cold if you think about it to much... Still, highly recommended!

Jackie and Next are just a couple of examples of the wonders this album has to offer. Scott's own compositions are, again, really the coolest material on the album. The Amorous Humphrey Plugg is absolutely fantastic. With the fancy arrangement it sounds like some sort of crooner song but it can also be seen as a perfect baroque pop song. To me, the magic is in the emotional nuances. Scott is a fantastic interpreter of emotions, and definitely not just the negative ones! When it comes to the lyrics, The Girls on the Streets follows the decadence theme but to me just sounds magnificent – the chorus is really quite ecstatic. It is another very slow song, but slower is usually better, I think. The arrangement is fabulous, especially the accordion!

Plastic Palace People is another piece of very intriguing lyrics. The arrangement feels like you are floating in some kind of dream world. It is a simple idea: strings and other instruments moving up and down the scale, but still the is overall feel is completely out of this world. When the strange vocal echo effect comes around, the song claims its place among Scott's most psychedelic songs. The Bridge is the fourth and final Scott Walker composition on the album and a beautifully melancholic tune. You can practically see the autumn leaves falling from trees while listening to the song.

Scott also turns the Tim Hardin song Black Sheep Boy into pure gold with his tender rendition. This was in fact, in my opinion, the first time Scott showed his more natural singing voice on a record (although, to be precise, he already gave a similar performance of Hardin's The Lady Came from Baltimore on the first solo album). Whereas he mostly sticks to the very dramatic vocal style he is known for, in this song his singing sounds more down-to-earth and relaxed. On Scott 4 he used this kind of singing style more than anywhere else during his career.

Something about this album really fascinates me. Again, it must be the balance between very easily listenable pop songs and considerably more grim material. Everything is coated with absolutely perfect, rich arrangements and Scott Walker's voice – the classiest one in the world.

Songs for you (YouTube):

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