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She's a haunted house and her windows are broken...
on 12 July 2000
The arguement over which of Scott Walker's albums is the best is not an easy one to decide. Whilst the undeniable genius of 1995's TILT holds a special place in this listener's heart as one of the darkest, most innovative albums ever produced, if I was pushed into a corner and asked which Scott album I listen to more than any other, it would probably be SCOTT 3.
Often strangely overlooked in favour of SCOTT 4, Walker's third solo album sees that amazing, haunting voice at it's most powerful and thought provoking. Unlike it's predecessors, SCOTT 3 really does begin to push the limits on what the "general" record buying public were willing to fork out money for, and it wouldn't be long until the Scott of the 60's WALKER BROTHERS would disappear altogether.
From the wonderful, complex arrangement of the album's stunning opener IT'S RAINING TODAY (written by Scott), which cleverly mixes a traditional 60's romantic melody with an undercurrent of disturbing strings that hints at disaster and heartache ahead, SCOTT 3 never fails to make the listener sit up and take note as the singer songwriter takes us on a journey drenched with darkened romanticism.
True, there are still lighter romantic tracks here, the seemingly jolly COPENHAGEN being a prime example, but as with even his WALKER BROTHERS output, the lyrics nearly always tell a darker story than the tune may have you believe (I mean, just listen to the lyrics to THE SUN AIN'T GONNA SHINE ANYMORE).
As with his previous albums, Scott delves into Jacques Brel territory, although it's to Scott's ever growing confidence as song writer that the album owes the majority of it's most impressive moments to his abilities alone. For example, the tear jerker BIG LOUISE is one of the saddest songs you'll ever hear, about a woman who realises how time has passed her by, boasting breathtaking lyrics such as.."she fills the bags, 'neath her eyes with the moonbeams, and cries 'cause the world's passed her by".
I could go on and on (but I won't, I promise!), and other stand out tracks would include the timeless TWO RAGGED SOLDIERS, WINTER NIGHT, and TWO WEEKS SINCE YOU'VE GONE (a man trying to get over a lover just departed, hoping he might relive that feeling of true love again someday). The masterpiece from SCOTT 3 though, does ultimately come from a Jacques Brel composition, called IF YOU GO AWAY. Beautifully arranged, it's a seemingly simple enough "love-lost" song, but with Scott's unique expressive voice that touches you in a way that no other can, it becomes something special. A tale of a man so in love that he can't bear to lose the woman he loves (she may even be dying), and feels that his life would be empty without her, it revisits the suicide tones of THE WALKER BROTHERS' most daring song, IN MY ROOM.
If SCOTT 3 isn't Walker's career best recording, then it must come mighty close. For me, his voice has never sounded better, and it just seems that every one of the thirteen engrossing tracks has got something to say. Something that upon first listen will make a lasting impression and stay with you for days, and in turn keep you returning to this album again and again.