The WalkerBrothers hits included “The Sun Ain’t Going to Shine Anymore” and “Joanna.” After the group disbanded in 1967, Scott quickly released four self-titled solo albums full of lush orchestration and existential lyrics which took in references to everything from prostitution to Joseph Stalin. With such a vast catalog to choose from, we have doubtless missed some of your most cherished songs, so let us know in the comments section if you have any other particular Scott Walker favorites.
This complex, grandiose album is full of poetic, strange lyrics on memorable tracks such as “Cossack's Are.” The striking “Jesse” is a meditation on death and the American dream, which combines the still-born fate of Elvis Presley’s twin brother with the Twin Towers terrorist attack. The title song “No Regrets,” which was written by Tom Rush, was an excellent cover version with Walker in fine voice.
13: The Old Man’s Back Again (Dedicated To the Neo-Stalinist Regime) (1969) In the sleeve notes to Scott 4, Walker quotes Albert Camus. “A man’s work is nothing but this slow trek to rediscover, through the detours of art, those two or three great and simple images in whose presence his heart first opened.” That summed up his approach to a remarkable album which included the political reflections of “The Old Man’s Back Again (Dedicated To The Neo-Stalinist Regime),” about the 1968 invasion of Czechoslovakia by the Warsaw Pact.
Walker wrote all ten songs on Scott 4 and, though it failed to chart, the album is a tour de force. Over a simple melody played on acoustic guitar, Walker’s song explores the motivation for a man to freeze himself so that he could see the future.
The tone is mocking, and he imagines the thawed man waking to meet Charles de Gaulle. The man who wrote so many songs about pain and life’s misfits sings cheerily about happy children in this uplifting ballad.
9: Big Louise (1969) Scott 3 was released in March 1969 and, for most fans, it was Walker’s finest album to date. Heavy orchestration remained a defining element of Walker’s music, and the wonderful miniature character study “Big Louise” was about a woman pondering the pain of lost youth.
It’s a poignant song that owed something to Walker’s passion for the work of Belgian composer Jacques Bred. 3: The Sun Ain’t Going to Shine Any more (1966) “The Sun Ain’t Going to Shine Anymore” was written by Bob Audio of The Four Seasons, but Frankie Villi’s version of this epic ballad failed to make the US charts.
The WalkerBrothers spotted its potential and released a version with a faster tempo that shot to the top of the charts in the UK. Though “The Sun Ain’t Going to Shine Anymore” is catchy, timeless pop music, it is a dark song.
Its place in popular culture was cemented by the fact that it was playing on the jukebox when Ronnie Ray murdered George Cornell in The Blind Beggar pub in London. This is especially true of the rousing, optimistic “My Ship Is Coming’ In,” which was written by Joey Brooks, a New Yorker who went on to make big money in advertising, writing jingles for Pepsi and Maxwell House.
The album contained cover versions of songs by artists such as Randy Newman and Bob Dylan. The most successful single from the album was “Make It Easy On Yourself” by Burt Zachariah and Hal David, which shot to No.1 in the UK.
They had a number of top ten albums and singles in the UK during the period 1965–1968, including #1 chart hits with Make It Easy On Yourself and The Sun Ain't Going to Shine (Anymore), both of which also made the US top twenty. The trio of Scott Walker (Noel Scott Angel), Gary Walker (Gary Leeds, formerly of The Stan dells), and John Walker (John MAUs, November 12, 1943 – May 7, 2011) moved from the U.S. to Britain in 1965.
The WalkerBrothers was a 1960s pop group founded in California in 1964, that ultimately found fame and fortune in the UK rather than in their homeland. The WalkerBrothers was a 1960s pop group founded in California in 1964, that ultimately found fame and fortune in the UK rather than in their homeland.
His prolific output in the ’60s pushed the boundaries of what pop music could be, and his work from the late ’70s onwards moved further and further into the abstract. Yet it was never an easy road, as Walker slowly walked a trail littered with alcoholism, drug addiction, bad record deals and strenuous perfectionism.
Though originally recorded by Frankie Villi, this was the biggest hit of the WalkerBrothers career and the one your grandma probably loved as a teen. With a rich arrangement that recalls the streets of a perfect Parisian block and Walker’s deep baritone dominating despite the “wall of sound” mix, it’s hard not to fall in love with Scott while listening to this song, even if we now know in retrospect there was a darkness lurking behind the teen pop facade.
The sole entry from 1984’s Climate of Hunter, “Track Three” is an outlier on this list, as is the rest of that album in Walker’s discography. After a night out at a recently opened Playboy club in London, Walker went back to the apartment of a German “bunny” who, after drinking lots of Pernod, played him the records of Jacques Bred and translated some of his work to him.
Soon after by chance, The Rolling Stones’ manager, Andrew Old ham, offered him his own translations of Bred’s work to sing, and the rest was history, as Bred’s fearless performances and lyrics about taboo subjects like sexually transmitted diseases, drunken escapades and infidelity were the skeleton key for the rest of Walker’s career. Working behind the signature drones of Sun O))) and bullwhips by circus performer Peter Gamble, Walker’s tortured voice perfectly matches the song’s subject of sadomasochism in the filmography of Marlon Brando.
Possibly the most underrated song in Walker’s career, “Fat Mother Kick” will leave you hunched in the fetal position with a cracked rib or two. Because he knew my tastes skewed towards the weird, he told me to try my best to keep the music as close to the station’s sound as possible.
Considering that our sound was mainstream alternative music, I couldn’t keep that promise for very long, as towards the final hour of one of my first shows, I decided to throw this song on. But it’s a well-written and well-performed summary of the Ingram Bergman classic, all the more entertaining considering a funny tidbit from Scott Walker : 30 Century Man where Scott recalls being upset that no one in Europe wanted to talk about art house cinema, preferring to talk about the latest John Wayne movie instead.
No longer trapped in the shadows of his teen pop past, he was able to take his songs in a truly modern direction, fully bringing to light the dark subjects he learned about after discovering the works of Jacques Bred. While “Fat Mother Kick” beats listeners down into the fetal position, “Shutout” is that initial punch, as the boy of the past is now a man, and one with a serious dark streak at that.
Then “The Cock fighter” comes on, and you begin messing with your stereo, wondering if the song is supposed to be that quiet or if your speakers are busted. After messing with the volume, you finally begin to hear Walker’s voice and immediately, you’re shaken as the loud industrial percussion kicks in.
“The Cock fighter” could live and die on that initial shock wave, but it maintains this tension throughout, like you’re riding down a never-ending version of Willy Wonka’s Tunnel of Terror. By this point in his career, Walker had proven his keen ability to transport listeners into the world of his music, but it was 1969’s Scott 3 that he was able to do this consistently with his own writing for almost an entire album, with “Rosemary” being one of the most devastating.
Shrieking synths make way for lush string arrangements just as belching bass work fades into the background, and blissful Spanish guitars come into the mix. Once you realize this song is about a sadistic CIA agent torturing a poor subject, you realize those beautiful string arrangements and Spanish guitar work are only in the mind of this CIA agent, as the rest of the song reveals the dastardly work of what he calls a job.
Scott Walker was born on January 9, 1943, making him one of the last members of the “Silent Generation.” While Walker never experienced the worst hardships of the Great Depression and would have no personal memories of the events of World War II, the trauma of these events still loomed large. Walker grew up in the shadows of the Beat Generation, with the song’s title and nonsensical lyrics being largely inspired by the beatniks he idolized when he was young.
Their interest in epizootics seemingly had nothing to do with their curiosity of animal epidemics, but just that it was a topic of eccentric coolness, which fit right in with Walker’s suave yet bonkers aesthetic. To make a long story short, “It’s Raining Today” is where my journey with Scott Walker began, and without it, I don’t know where I’d be.
By the time of 2006’s The Drift, Walker had mastered the ability to write about extremely grim subjects with a deft hand. It was named after Claret ta Peace, the mistress of Benito Mussolini, who was shot, killed and further humiliated alongside him while their dead bodies were hung upside down in Piazza Loreto.
It’s a minimal, but extremely violent moment, placing the listener in Piazza Loreto in Milan on April 29, 1945, witnessing the bodies of Mussolini, Peace and other horrific fascists being humiliated. I remember my parents and people talking about Hitler and Mussolini, they thought they were sort of comic characters: the way they looked and everything.
It’s clear from that last part that there are serious parallels between Mussolini and President Donald Trump, making this song as relevant as ever.