Tuesday, 6 November 2012
Scott Walker sings Jacques Brel
While as an artist he has progressed immesurably since his work with the Walker Brothers in the 1960s made him a star, his solo albums, starting with 1967's Scott featuring his interpretations of Jacques Brel songs made clear his intentions as a serious artist.
The work of Jacques Brel would undepin Walker's early solo career, and also influence his own work at the time.
Scott featured Mathilde, My Death and Amsterdam, along with other covers and original material. Brel songs would feature on his subsequent two solo releases, Scott 2 featuring Jackie, Next and The Girls and the Dogs and Scott 3 included Sons of, Funeral Tango and If You Go Away.
By Scott 3, the Brel songs were the only covers on the album, with all the other material written by Walker himself. His subsequent Scott 4 collection would be all original material.
Walker's career would subsequently take strange directions, with albums of easy listening covers (his 'Sings songs from his TV series' came out between Scott 3 and 4) and a re-convening of the Walker Brothers in the 70s, before his muse would take him in his current direction.
Interesting that a singer who was part of the Easy Listening scene of the 70s should be an artist producing such genuinely harrowing work in the 21st century.
Walker's recordings of Brel became for many the definitive versions of these songs in the English language, and have informed other artists who have subsequently performed his work in English, from David Bowie to Marc Almond.
Walker's Brel covers from his first three albums were collected in a compilation in 1981, Scott Walker Sings Jacques Brel. The album also included the track Little Things (That Keep Us Together), one of walker's own works. This track was omitted from the subsequent CD reissue of the collection.
Interestingly, he performed a few other Brel songs, including Alone, during his TV show. Recordings of these have not been made available.
Jackie was a number 22 hit in the UK in 1968, despite being banned by the BBC for its lyrical content.