Music On Vinyl

SCOTT WALKER - sings jacques brel LP

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he nine songs collected here all made their first appearances in the late 1960s on Scott Walker's first three solo albums. In these contexts, Walker's readings of Jacques Brel's songs loomed as rather obvious signposts on the route Walker was trying to negotiate--the always treacherous path from teen idol to serious artist. Here, however, they hang together well as a discrete collection of sympathetic and often glorious interpretations of a great songwriter by a great singer. The Belgian-born Brel flourished in the Paris of the 1960s. His songs were strange, sordid little narratives populated with dissolute characters--the drunken sailors in "Amsterdam", the depraved pop icon who narrates "Jackie"--and it is likely he would have languished in terminal obscurity until his death in 1978 had Walker not become so besotted with his work. Walker's lachrymose vocals were the ideal vehicle for Brel's vignettes, and Brel's influence resonated, through Walker, to artists including Marc Almond (who also recorded an album of Brel's works, called Jacques), Roxy Music and The Divine Comedy--Andrew Mueller