Album no. 171/1001
This is the first Scott where Scott wrote all the songs himself. Is that good or bad? Depends how you feel about Scott I guess.
This was originally released under Scott’s real name (Noel Scott Engel) and it promptly failed to chart at all and actually got deleted. It was re-released under the Scott branding, and is cited as an influence by David Bowie, Radiohead and The Divine Comedy.
Scott was really upset about the album’s failure, and spent the next few years making records he didn’t care about in order to get out of contract. He would reinvent himself as an avant-garde artist some time later, but this was the beginning of a tough time for him.
Have you listened to this album before?
NK: SCOTT’S BACK! HI SCOTT.
CL: NO. GO AWAY SCOTT WALKER.
NK: This is more delightful Scott madness. ‘The Seventh Seal’ starts out like something from the Fistful of Dollars soundtrack, and then Scott starts singing about knights playing chess with death and running to where they might feel god’s breath in a misty church (yes, this song was based on the movie). My favourite was ‘The World’s Strongest Man’, which is actually quite a vulnerable song (“he’s NOT the world’s strongest man”.) I liked ‘Dutchess’ as well, just a nice pop song.
CL: Well this is weird. I’m surprised to hear myself say this but I really liked ‘Hero of the War’. It sounds like something Simon & Garfunkel might have cobbled together. I also didn’t mind ‘Get Behind Me’.
When would be the best time to listen to this?
NK: This is pretty relaxed. This is a late in the evening with a glass of wine sort of album.
CL: It sounds very movie soundtrack – I’d suggest putting this on if you’re traveling the world in a vintage self-discovery film.
Why has this album been included on the list?
NK: This is still pretty chamber pop, lots of strings and lush arrangements with Scott’s voice. The songs are pretty varied this time around, with lovelorn ballads next to politically charged numbers. Also the people who cite it as an influence are pretty well-known.
CL: It’s interesting because I really can hear his influence this time around. The combination of his sultry vocals with the strings really became a bit of a stalwart in pop music about 30 years after this came out. Also, how many artists have a song about the ghost of Stalin? NOT MANY.
Will you be listening again?
NK: Maybe! I didn’t mind this. I don’t think it’s amazing, but it’s better than the last Scott album (Scott 2) and it’s got a couple of good songs. As with several of these albums, I suspect I would start to enjoy it more with repeat listens which it is unlikely to get. Sorry Scott.
CL: This was definitely better than his first – I actually got all the way through it, so that’s praise in itself. I
Listen to Scott 4 on Spotify or buy it in iTunes.