Thursday, October 11, 2012

Walkermania! Part One

It comes as no surprise that the Walker Brothers have very much become an everyday activity to me. Back in the early 60s there were many great things going on in southern California. One of these things was bass player Scott Engel meeting guitarist John Maus. Original drummer Al “Tiny” Schneider was replaced with Gary Leeds after some time. Debut single Pretty Girls Everywhere was followed by Love Her which was musically a massive step forward. For various reasons, the trio decided to aim at the UK market. Especially Engel was very much interested in moving to England where he felt the band's music might get a better reception. Leeds managed to get financing for the trio to step on a plane.

Engel, Maus and Leeds arrived in England in the freezing cold winter of 1965. They were soon signed to Philips Records. Love Her caught a lot of attention and the first single recorded on English terrain (Make It Easy on Yourself) was a number one hit. Between 1965 and 1967 the Walkers released several top 20 hits, three albums and toured in the UK and abroad. At some point they were even said to be more popular than the Beatles, which is probably the result of their fan club growing out of proportion, thanks to the devotion shown by young girls towards their favorite Americans.

As the Walkers became more and more popular they also began to attract girls – hundreds, thousands of hysterical, screaming girls. A typical Walker Brothers gig consisted of screaming rather than music, even though the Walkers always gave the best performance they could. Some major violence occurred during tours of this period. Fans, tour personnel and the artists themselves ended up in hospital on many occasions.

So, there were definitely many interesting aspects about Walkermania. The most memorable thing is obviously the music and superb production quality, not to mention Scott Engel/Walker's voice that has continued to amaze people up to this day. In the mid-60s England pop was a lot about beat music. However, a typical Walker Brothers recording session was something quite different. Instead of two guitars, bass and drums there were more likely two or three sets of drums, three pianos, a brass section, a big string section and a chorus. The music definitely cost a lot of money to record but when you listen to the results... They just don't make music like this anymore! Or can't afford to.

Tune in next time, when I discuss some of the most beautiful, magnificent and heartbreaking  Walker Brothers songs! Meanwhile, check out something really good.

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