Customer Review

29 of 32 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars a much better compilation than you'd expect for a budget cd, 16 Dec 2007
This review is from: The Collection (Audio CD)
'The Collection' is a budget compilation of Scott Walkers music from 1967 to 1970 plus 'Any Day Now' from 1973.

I'm actually quite new to Walkers music. About a year ago a friend lent me a compilation of material by Walker and the Walker Brothers called 'No Regrets'. It only featured six solo Walker songs, five of which are included on 'The Collection'. Those five songs were in keeping with the Walker Brothers' sound, but it was clear that in songs like 'Montague Terrace (In Blue)' and 'Boy Child' (not featured here unfortunately) that Scott Walker had greater range and a more experimental and unusual approach.

The material that is featured here is biased towards the material from 1967s 'Scott' and 1968s 'Scott 2'. Nine of the songs on this eighteen track CD are cut from those two LPs. Walker's two most celebrated albums are only represented by four songs, and these are arguably the best songs of the compilation. 'If You Go Away' and 'Copenhagen' from 'Scott 3' have all the orchestration expected, but use them in a manner which is less to sweeten and more to heighten Walker's vocal. Neither song is really a typical ballad, and display elements of several musical directions. 'The Seventh Seal' and 'Duchess' from 'Scott 4' have a stripped feel and a closer resemblance to pop. The beat on both, but more apparent on 'The Seventh Seal', drives the songs with more of rock 'n' roll rhythm that is not heard on the compilation (apart from perhaps the thunderous 'Jackie').

This is not to say material from 'Scott' and 'Scott 2' is nothing but uniformly excellent. Of course, with the Walker Brothers and as a solo artist he often shone blasting out the ballads and covers. 'Montague Terrace (In Blue)', 'The Lady Came from Baltimore' and 'Amsterdam' for example are all fantastic. Yet it is clear when a composition is Scott's - as all are on 'Scott 4' and most are on 'Scott 3' - or a cover which populate most of the material on his first two LPs. Yet Scott Walker seems destined to rework Jacques Brel to brilliant effect, while songs like 'Lights of Cincinatti' and 'Black Sheep Boy' are also wonderful highlights. Yet in comparison to songs of his own like 'Boy Child' from 'Scott 4', Walker takes his trademark baritone and Wally Stott arrangements into gloomier and more personal places.

As a compilation and in relation to other CDs on the market, 'The Collection' has much to recommend. Unfortunately some of its characteristics are its greatest failings. One such inclusion is 'The Look of Love' which is from Scott's "lost" 4th album: 'Scott: Scott sings songs from his TV series'. It's a drippy and uninspired run through. Scott sounds bored or ill-suited to the material. 'Look of Love' would be the lowlight of the compilation if it weren't for 'Any Day Now', which the comically bad title track from one of his two 1973 albums. It's good of the compilers to represent more than Walkers usual over-analysed 67-70 period, yet both songs inclusion only justices their normal exclusion. 'Any Day Now' is sandwiched in-between the wonderful 'Montague Terrace' and 'Amsterdam' and this only extenuates its inferiority. Yet the beauty of both these lowlights is that they paint a picture of the quality of their parent albums. From these pictures we know to avoid these albums, this at very least justifies their inclusion.

It would be absurd to produce a Walker compilation without the non-album singles 'Joanna' or 'Lights of Cincinatti', but it is the appearance 'The Rope and the Colt' that adds the greatest value to the CD. I believe it was a title track to a 1968 film and only released in France at the time.

Overall as a budget release it covers a good amount of material and hits, with enough highpoints and rarities to make it worthwhile. The only real misgivings are the packaging, which has a nice enough cover, but has the same portrait throughout the sleeve. The lack of information about the material featured is also a bit of shame. The information on the material that i've mentioned above was found through searching the Internet and was not found in the liner notes. The sleeve notes by Daryl Easlea are serviceable enough, but their mentioning of material from 'Climate of Hunter' and 'Tilt' begs the question why no material appears from either appears here (the compilation was released before 'The Drift' so its understandable why it isn't mentioned).

Again, it's a good value compilation for starting out with Walkers solo work or useful if you just want the few rarities on CD. Great.
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Initial post: 3 May 2014 23:08:04 BDT
Last edited by the author on 3 May 2014 23:09:49 BDT
I've become such a scott fan since I wrote this review that I'm now besotted with Any Day Now. Still, for the casual fan I wouldn't recommend it. The TV series album is pretty decent too. Look of Love isn't one of its better tracks, and only appears on this compilation because its a Burt Bacharach/Hal David tune.
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