A very entertaining way to catch up on the Scott Walker phen
Christopher Culver | 06/18/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Scott Walker is a figure more talked about than heard for many music lovers. As a fan of the 4AD record label, I heard Walker's name come up again and again, whether it was as the inspiration for Brendan Perry's vocals or the aesthetic of Cocteau Twins bassist Simon Raymonde (whose father Ivor recorded Walker's youthful music). Walker himself was signed to this very label at the age of 60. After Walker released his album The Drift in 2006, I felt the time was right to finally encounter this musician, but I wanted some historical background on the Walker phenomenon. The documentary 30 CENTURY MAN is a good way to quickly get up to speed.
The film is divided into two parts. The first is the story of Walker's career and the effect it had on musicians who worked with him and who listened to the albums he released. Artist interviews include members of Radiohead, Sting, David Bowie, Simon Raymonde, Allison Goldfrapp, and Jarvis Cocker. There's a great deal of archival interview footage with Walker from the 1960s through the 1980s. The second part consists of scenes from the recording of THE DRIFT. Here one can see how Walker created some of the bizarre sonorities on the record, for example having workmen construct an elaborate wooden structure just to get the precise slamming sound he wanted. Much of THE DRIFT is piercing noise of uncertain origin, but the documentary gives you an idea of the instrumental forces used. It's remarkable how humble a musician Scott Walker comes across as in the interviews, absolutely sure of his aesthetic direction but very understanding that it won't be everyone's cup of tea. While not the nutty recluse that some suspected he was, Walker still clearly likes his privacy, but he opens up enough that the viewer feels a deepened understanding of his work."
FastFilm | Los Angeles | 07/12/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The subject is American, but his pre-eminence is strictly European. Fans of "Absolutely Fabulous" should remember Patsy's older sister claiming she was the subject of a Scott Walker song; fans of director Minghella's first (and best) film "Truly Madly Deeply" (comedy-tragedy-ghost story: deserves own eventual blog) should remember the woman and her ghostly dead lover singing a raucous cover of "The Sun Ain't Gonna Shine Anymore" while fans of oldskool retro-60's classics on classics radio should recall "Make It Easy On Yourself" plus many anthemic others done with the same sonorous baritone over an orchestral sweeping vista.
The film is "30 Century Man" and the subject is Scott Walker. Once upon a time in the 1960's, three typical tall, skinny Sunset Strip denizens with long hair and bangs past their eyebrows plus failed C.V.s as musicians moved to England, wherein the intrinsic lack of tall, skinny Sunset Strip denizens with bangs past their eyebrows would allow them to actually stand out. And they did, to eventual mega-stardom. Precursors of the Ramones' hat trick, these unrelated chums named themselves the Walker Brothers, surrendered to mainstream pop, and had enormous hit after enormous hit there, with their flagship sound of Scott Walker's baritone crooning. However mushy the MOR slop tended to be, at least it was interesting having "one of our own" youth culturers singing this way, and all three looking so shaggable. Believe me, David Bowie was listening INTENTLY to this particular sound, and you can hear it every concert he sings to this day.
Huge hits written by the era's best other songwriters, genuine Beatles-esque fan mobbing, compromises, breakdowns, supstance abuse, what photographer/director Larry Clark called "the usual betrayals in the music biz," then it gets weird. Prettiest boy and main voice Scott derails, joins a monestary, emerges as a Jacques Brel interpreter, then a techno-artist songwriter before there actually is techno, then avant-garde orchestrator cum performance artist for music that has no categorizing description, all of which he warbles the highest brow intellectual themes over. He releases his work maybe once a decade. This is the story of Scott Walker, a man rightly called the most enigmatic figure ever in the history of popular music, depicted from infancy to 2006 in "30 Century Man."
Director Steven Kijak gives us "listening heads" instead of the talking variety, what with David Bowie coming aboard, Radiohead, Brian Eno and others chatting about Walker's influence upon their own work. Even 60's compatriot Lulu inquires to the only director that's managed to snag an interview with Walker if he's still gorgeous (A: yes, in a tall, skinny, bit of receding hairline, wildly creative, intellectual mien way. Plus he's sober now for decades. The guy laughs a lot for a supposed morbidly reclusive type, too.) Many depicted fans of old don't "get" his newest work, voicing Luddite disdain for something so far ahead of what's going on now (whenever "now" is: that's the beauty of the avant garde) that they fail to embrace pure innovation for its own sake.
You'll see recent footage of him orchestrating in the studio (replete with a percussionist pounding a huge side of pork, or recording sounds under a wooden box,) and explaining his difficult themes with assured ease and aplomb. Thank God Scott Walker is still around, for this is one former pop star turned composer who is actually working at the peak of creative powers right here, right now, a massive acheivement for anyone, but especially former popstars. Trent Reznor should be so lucky when he's Walker's age. Check out "30 Century Man" now on dvd to watch a fascinating musical journey."
A Mystery Man of Music
George C. Hutton | Melbourne Fla | 07/01/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I use to play the Walker Brothers "The Sun Ain't Gonnna Shine Anymore"
on 45 in my room as a 12 year old kid. It was then that I realized that
Scott Walker has one of the strongest voices EVER. He left the group at
their peak, to pursue a solo career. He has put out several solo projects
where he interupts other peoples songs with dark passion, but strong
communication skills (sounds like a Vampire ?) anyway he has been compared
to Jazz Greats; Johnny Hartman and Billy Eckstine, which is great, but he is much more of a experiementalist. I have to admit I enjoy his earlier
works more than his most recent efforts, but I would drive from Miami to NYC just to hear him live. This Video captures his story, life, music etc
if you watch it, and go hmmmmmm, becareful, like the Vampire, once you invite him in, you'll never be able to get him out of your head.
Scott Walker Alive and Better Than Ever
M | CA USA | 09/02/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I was a huge fan of Walker Brothers in my teenage era. Especially Scott. I spent my last yen to go to see him when he did Solo Tour in Japan in late 60s. Then I got busy worring about day to day living and forgot about Scott. 40 years later, this video reconnected me to Scott and his awesome new stuff he is creating. Very interesting!!! So happy to know that he is alive and pretty much active and even better! Still looks almost as cute as he was 40 years ago."