23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
Reflections in a diamond eye...,
This review is from: Scott 3 (Audio CD)
Obvious from its no-nonsense title, this was, of course, the third self-titled offering from Scott following the initial dissolution of the Walker Brothers sometime in the mid 1960's. The songs and song writing ability in general had improved since the rather angular Scott II, and could definitely be seen as something of a precursor to the near mythic status of the amazing Scott IV (with songs like Butterfly and Winter Night being taken to their logical conclusion with later tracks like The Hero of War and Duchess) -- with this record displaying a confidence and maturity that was lacking in the work that came before. Scott's songwriting is here nurtured by the production of John Franz and those gorgeous arrangements, which here draw on the sound that Scott is most synonymous with (and later acts like Morrissey, the Divine Comedy and Pulp would attempt to ape)... with celestial strings pouring melancholy, being callously undercut by the bombastic horns that underline Walker's resonating croon.
The album opens on a high, with one of Scott's all time classic ballads... It's Raining Today. The sound is typical of the chamber pop of this era, though, at the same time, sounds as otherworldly as anything you can imagine... even pre-empting Bowie's space-age crooner from records like Station to Station. It sets up a mood of nostalgia, loss, dislocation & heartache that will continue throughout the album, transporting us to a place that is shrouded in a misty sepia, (or subdued, like the Neil Jordan visualisation of Graham Greene's the End of the Affair... a film that continues such notions of loss and even alludes to Scott through the use of Michael Nyman's wilting string-based soundtrack). Next up is one of my very favourite Scott ballads, the ethereal and transporting Copenhagen, which, despite being exceedingly short has some wonderful piano work and harpsichord trail-off featured in those divine, closing moments. The lyrics are great throughout; much more confident and wordy than those few snippets of original material that turned up on previous efforts, with Walker not afraid to reference such diverse inspirations as Samuel Becket, William Blake and Wordsworth (whilst 30th Century Man even sounds like Scott's pop-contemporary, Bob Dylan).
Both Rosemary and Big Louise find Scott on top-form, both vocally and instrumentally as the singer picks away plaintively on an acoustic guitar as that orchestration builds in the background, whilst the lyrics drip poetry like melting glass ("my coat's too thin, my feet won't fly, and I watch the wind... see another dream blowing by" from Rosemary and "she's a haunted house and her windows are broken" from Big Louise are better than anything by romantics like Keats, Yates... you name 'um). Even better is We Came Through, which sounds almost like the theme tune to a Hollywood western, and certainly lays the groundwork for Scott IV's opening number the Seventh Seal... with lyrics that are possibly, better than Dylan ("we came through... like the gothic monsters perched on Notre Dame, we observe the naked souls of gutters pouring forth mankind" -- and people found Tilt shocking??). The next five tracks are impeccable, and show Scott at the height of his powers... crafting gorgeous ballads unlike anyone else, before or since. These songs lead us to those three excellent closing numbers, each of them translated covers of the songs of Jacques Brel... and each of them interpreted perfectly by Scott.
Sons Of remains one of my favourite songs of all time and demonstrates a more creative 'out-there' side of Scott, as he expertly crafts a giddy-carnival melody to complement what is essentially a gorgeous and haunting lullaby. Next is Funeral Tango, which is possibly the most bombastic thing Walker has ever done (& possibly the best... though it does have stiff competition from We Came Through, The Seventh Seal, Blanket Role Blues and Farmer in the City, etc), and certainly acts as a great diversion from all this lulled romanticism, with sniping lyrics that really suit Walker's cynical worldview. The album ends with Brel's If You Go Away, which mirrors the opening track, giving the album a definite cohesion, as well as offering us a prime example of that classic Scott Walker melancholy... which is great. Scott III remains one of my all time favourite Scott albums, alongside the later Tilt, and should be experienced by as many people as possible. Though, unlike the more popular Scott IV, it does take a few listens for the full effect of the album to sink in... though, when it does, you'll discover that there is simply nothing else like it.
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Showing 1-4 of 4 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 16 Mar 2012, 01:02:49 GMT
Jason Parkes says:
Posted on 1 Dec 2012, 07:07:06 GMT
Excellent review, though I'm not sure how you could describe the (non-charting and long unavailable) Scott 4 as 'more popular'.
In reply to an earlier post on 13 Aug 2015, 17:16:13 BST
Jonathan James Romley says:
I should have added "more popular with fans." The revisionist criticism of the time seemed to suggest that Scott 4 was his great masterpiece.
In reply to an earlier post on 13 Aug 2015, 17:21:08 BST
There is nothing 'revisionist' about those who regard Scott 4 as his masterpiece. I wouldn't agree, as I would put both Tilt and Bish Bosch above it. But I would probably put it (slightly) above Scott III. Not 'revisionist', just a slight difference in taste.
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