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No Regrets: Writings on Scott Walker [Paperback]

Rob Young
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
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Book Description

6 Jun 2013
Scott Walker has travelled from teen idol to the outer limits of music. From 'The Sun Ain't Gonna Shine Any More' reaching No.1, through to recordings of meat being punched on his last album, THE DRIFT, he somehow seems to have reached a passionate and committed fan base. Throughout his career, his impeccable critical reputation as a serious and uncompromising musician has never been questioned. The recent film, 30TH CENTURY MAN, had a litany of stars queuing up to praise Walker: the likes of David Bowie, Damon Albarn, Jarvis Cocker, Radiohead, Johnny Marr and Sting. But despite this, in 40 years of music, there has yet to be a serious book on Scott Walker. This collection, put together by Rob Young of THE WIRE magazine, features a handful of previously published articles and newly commissioned pieces, largely drawn from the orbit of THE WIRE's writers including Ian Penman, Chris Bohn and Rob Young.

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No Regrets: Writings on Scott Walker + Scott: The Curious Life & Work of Scott Walker
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Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Orion (6 Jun 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 140912018X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1409120186
  • Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 13 x 2.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 534,141 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Rob Young was born in Bristol in 1968. He has worked as a music writer and editor since 1993, when he joined the staff of The Wire magazine. He was Editor of the title between 2000-04 and continues to be a Contributing Editor and co-owner. He edited the collections of Wire articles, 'Undercurrents: The Hidden Wiring of Modern Music' (Continuum 2002), 'The Wire Primers: A Guide to Modern Music' (Verso 2009), and a selection of newly commissioned pieces on a legendary musical genius, 'No Regrets: Writings On Scott Walker' (Orion 2012).

He also wrote the first two in Black Dog Publishing's Labels Unlimited series of illustrated record company biographies: 'Warp' (2005) and 'Rough Trade' (2006). In 2010 he published his 650-page history of folk music and the British imagination, from the late 19th century to the present, 'Electric Eden: Unearthing Britain's Visionary Music' (Faber and Faber).

He has contributed to many publications including Uncut, Sight & Sound, The Word, The Guardian, Frieze and Art Review, as well as art catalogues on Jeremy Deller, Carsten Nicolai and Seb Patane.

Twitter: @polyalbion

Product Description


"Young weaves a poetic, philosophical tapestry as rich and heady as the songs he champions." --"A.V. Club "on "Electric Eden"

Book Description

A colourful collection of pieces on the enigmatic genius of Scott Walker from THE WIRE.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars No Regrets... we'll only cry, again 27 Jun 2012
By d.a.p.
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Enjoying the book so far although I haven't yet read every section (I'll update this review when I get round to that!).

On the whole it has a fairly casual journalistic tone which is easy to read and usually informative and insightful without getting too bogged down in needless critical theory spiel. As to be expected each of the writers tend to be gushing over Scott Walker and their love and passion for the music comes through.

I enjoyed reading The Walker Brothers section written by Anthony Reynolds which helped me to put those early records into a context and make sense of them in the greater scheme of things. I really love having the full transcription of the Wire interview from 2006 which finds Scott in a surprisingly open and enthusiastic interview with Rob Young around the release of The Drift, an album that is definitely worth being happy about! Stephen Kijak, director of 30th Century Man, has a section devoted to recounting the making of the film which is, again, a great read which adds light to the film.

I didn't care much for Nina Power's relatively short section on Scott 1 and 2, she makes some fairly interesting points throughout but they oddly come across a little hollow and unnecessary academic and at the end of the day I don't feel she really does the albums justice and it comes across less illuminating than the other pieces in the book that I've read so far... sadly. Derek Walmsley's piece on Scott 3 and 4 by contrast was a nice read although he seemed totally infatuated with It's Raining Today, a beautiful song for sure and also a very important one for Scott to write, but it stops him from writing much about the rest of the tracks on these fantastic albums.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Best of Both Worlds 3 July 2012
By Geoff
This book is worth buying for Ian Penman and David Toop's essays alone. I say 'alone': the first of those must be 20,000 words long, and it's as incisive and creative as music writing gets, very powerful stuff in places. No mean feat when you're writing about the 'lost years' most people neglect. The second brings 'The Drift' alive by drawing your attention to a surprising set of musical styles, books and films from across various cultures and eras, and seamlessly back to its subject again. I guess the ever-elusive Walker is the ideal subject for good writers like these to get stuck into, cause they're free to let rip.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars varied 21 May 2012
the Penman essay is a great read, except for the bits where he appears to enter into the mind of Walker - rock journalists should never do this.
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0 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Scott Walker 19 Feb 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This was a present so what can I say other than I hope he liked it, oh no not another 4 words needed!!!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.0 out of 5 stars  3 reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Well worth reading for the Walker fan 10 Feb 2013
By Jason from Iowa - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This book is a collection of essays, in chronological order, about Scott Walker. There are also 2 interviews with him. Very very few stones are left unturned, and I was surprised and pleased to see one of the essays delves deep into his 'lost' years between Scott 4 and Nite Flights, an era which is often summarized with a paragraph. With the essays written by different people, each one had different ambitions to focus on and I think this multifaceted approach really works for Scott and his music. Honestly I'm not a great reviewer - usually I see a review on a product that says exactly what I was going to say, but I saw this had ZERO reviews and I had to comment. It is a great book! If you want good writing on Walker and his music that goes rather deep, not just into the music but what it means in the larger context of popular music, you should buy it!
5.0 out of 5 stars The Implicitly White Genius of Scott Walker 17 Feb 2014
By James J. Omeara - Published on
Even if my review at the Counter-Currents blog hasn't convinced you that Scott Walker is the ultimate White musician and worthy of your attention for that reason alone, this book will appeal to anyone with an interest in the mechanics of the post-war pop music industry or just some damned fine cultural writing. It’s really quite exciting to see such implicitly White music, both avant garde and MOR, receiving serious critical attention. White Nationalists should be heartened by it, and should encourage this unexpected entry point into the mainstream by purchasing multiple copies for family and friends!
3.0 out of 5 stars A few new tidbits on Walker's work, but passionate fans are likely to find this a disappointing collection 19 April 2013
By Christopher Culver - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
NO REGRETS: Writings on Scott Walker is a collection of 14 papers on various aspects of the singer's career, edited with an introduction by Rob Young of The Wire, a magazine which has done more to champion Walker's later career than any other. NO REGRETS covers Walker's ouput from his mid-1960s music with the Walker Brothers to his 2006 album THE DRIFT. Walker's early career as a teen idol is mentioned in passing in Young's introduction, but not explored in detail. The collection was published in early 2012 and just missed the opportunity to discuss his most recent album BISH BOSCH.

For the most part, each paper covers a different set of albums. Anthony Reynolds writes on the Walker Brothers era. Nina Power talks about the SCOTT and SCOTT 2 albums, while Derek Walmsley treats SCOTT 3 and SCOTT 4. Ian Penman surveys the TV series album, 'TIL THE BAND COMES IN and THE MOVIEGOER. Walker's mid-1970s forays in country music are recognized as a creative black hole in his career, but Amanda Perusich finds value in the albums ANY DAY NOW, STRETCH and WE HAD IT ALLL.

Biba Kopf covers in a single chapter the entire Walker Brothers reunion, which produced the albums NO REGRETS, LINE and NITE FLIGHTS, only the latter of which is of lasting value due to Scott Walker's four contributions that announced a new avant-garde sensibility. Damon Krukowski tries to decipher the surrealistic lyrics of CLIMATE OF HUNTER. It was in the 1990s that late-period Scott Walker started to get more press coverage, and so the album TILT is discussed in two contributions. One is Brian Morton's paper "The Significant Other", while the other is Richard Cook's 1995 interview with Scott Walker, originally published in The Wire.

David Stubbs looks at the various film and stage collaborations that followed, and for THE DRIFT there are a full four papers: Chris Sharp, the head of the 4AD label, reminisces on the hectic schedule of making that album. David Toop, generally known as a writer on contemporary classical music, lists his reactions to the various songs of this exceedingly bleak work. There follows Rob Young's 2006 interview with Walker, again originally published in The Wire. Finally, Stephen Kijak talks a little about how he managed to make his "Scott Walker: 30 Century Man" documentary at the same time that Walker was recording THE DRIFT.

I consider myself a Scott Walker superfan, but I was rather disappointed with NO REGRETS. The problem is not entirely the fault of the authors, but Scott Walker has guarded his privacy carefully and rarely speaks about his lyrics, which means that there isn't a whole lot of analysis to be done without going off into utter speculation or deconstructionist wankery. Most of the assertions about the late career either cite Kijak's "Scott Walker: 30 Century Man" documentary, which passionate fans are likely to have already seen, or even the Wikipedia article on Scott Walker. Toop's article is especially tiresome; while it does talk about THE DRIFT, Toop generally just pulls all manner of other 20th century artists into the mix through free association while listening to Walker's work.

However, I did glean a few facts from this release that help me appreciate Scott Walker's work a bit better (e.g. that CLIMATE OF HUNTER has a symmetrical structrure, and the song "Hand Me Ups" is about a TV presenter and his children). After reading Perusich's article, my opinion that Walker's mid-1970s output is drunken rubbish hasn't changed, but I found her observation on the changing demographics of the country music audience (and its arrival in the UK) interesting.
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