Scott Walker

Classics & Collectibles

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While there's both much fine music here and many rarities that the dedicated Scott Walker collector will want to have, this two-CD anthology unfortunately falls into the "not quite one or the other" category. Disc one collects 22 songs from his commonly available early catalog, all previously issued on CD, mostly from his early solo releases (though some are by the Walker Brothers). Most of disc two, however, had not been released on CD before this compilation, drawing from numerous rare late-'60s and early-'70s discs, including several songs from his rare 1969 LP Scott Sings Songs from His TV Series, one ("The Gentle Rain") from a 1966 EP, and assorted singles and soundtracks. Here's the rub: the commonly available songs on disc one, which focus on his most subdued early ballads, are by far better than the rarities on disc two, which assembles far slushier middle-of-the-road pop and includes no Walker originals. So the general fan who wants to hear his best (or at least better) early stuff is stuck with a companion disc that's not as good as or stylistically compatible with the first CD, while serious collectors willing to put up with the pop covers for the sake of completism are lumbered with a whole disc of material they already have (likely more than once, in many cases). A Classics & Collectibles anthology for Dusty Springfield suffered from the same problem, though at least there the quality was pretty high on almost all the songs, whether rare or not. If you're still interested in accepting the CD for what it is, disc one is very good, containing highlights of his early work like "If You Go Away," "The Sun Ain't Gonna Shine Anymore" (with the Walker Brothers, presented here in a mono mix that makes John Walker's vocal more prominent), "In My Room" (also with the Walkers), "Jackie," "Next," "Plastic Palace People," and "Just Say Goodbye." The accent's on moody ballads, but there is room for some of his acerbic, up-tempo Jacques Brel covers, like "Mathilde." Still, it's not a best-of, not when it's missing such undoubted highlights as "The Seventh Seal" and "The Old Man's Back Again," for starters. As for disc two, once you get past the shock of hearing him croon straight pop songs and standards without much of an edge (by the likes of John Barry, Henry Mancini, Paul Anka, Jimmy Webb, Dory Previn, and Antonio Carlos Jobim, with Randy Newman's "Cowboy" sneaking in somehow), it's really not that bad, though nothing you'd play to convince novices of Walker's hipness. Walker simply had a superb voice, and even if the material and arrangements are often blandly sentimental ("The Impossible Dream" indeed!), he does croon these so well that most of them can be enjoyed on at least a modest level. Some are easier to take than others, of course, and it's a little saccharine in one concentrated dose. The larger point is, however, that it's really the rarities that give this package any value. If this rare material is to be issued at all, it should be issued as a stand-alone rarities disc; as a double CD of nothing but rarities; or, by going the whole hog and putting out the rare albums, as flawed as they may be, with bonus tracks. This sort of compromise anthology doesn't wholly please anyone.

Track Listing - Disc 1

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
1 5:00 SpotifyAmazon
2 3:42 SpotifyAmazon
3 2:33 Spotify
4 3:13 SpotifyAmazon
5 2:25 SpotifyAmazon
6 3:53 SpotifyAmazon
7 4:21 SpotifyAmazon
8 2:39 SpotifyAmazon
9 1:44 SpotifyAmazon
10 3:25 Spotify
11 3:22 SpotifyAmazon
12 2:47 SpotifyAmazon
13 4:01 SpotifyAmazon
14 3:51 SpotifyAmazon
15 4:53 SpotifyAmazon
16 3:05 SpotifyAmazon
17 3:10 SpotifyAmazon
18 2:50 SpotifyAmazon
19 3:52 SpotifyAmazon
20 6:05 SpotifyAmazon
21 1:42 SpotifyAmazon
22 3:40 Spotify

Track Listing - Disc 2

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
1 3:41 SpotifyAmazon
2 4:22 SpotifyAmazon
3 2:37 SpotifyAmazon
4 2:43 SpotifyAmazon
5 3:18 SpotifyAmazon
6 3:08 SpotifyAmazon
7 2:56 SpotifyAmazon
8 3:07 SpotifyAmazon
9 3:36 SpotifyAmazon
10 4:01 SpotifyAmazon
11 3:01 SpotifyAmazon
12 2:32 SpotifyAmazon
13 2:12 SpotifyAmazon
14 3:00 SpotifyAmazon
15 3:18 SpotifyAmazon
16 3:01 SpotifyAmazon
17 3:23 SpotifyAmazon
18 2:32 SpotifyAmazon
19 3:55 SpotifyAmazon
4:08 SpotifyAmazon
21 3:53 SpotifyAmazon
22 3:00 SpotifyAmazon
23 4:20 SpotifyAmazon
blue highlight denotes track pick