The Walker Brothers

If You Could Hear Me Now

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Comparing the equally lengthy track listings of the '60s-based After the Lights Go Out and the '70s-based If You Could See Me Now to one another, one gets the impression that both decades were equally fruitful for the Walker Brothers. And if space for John's grand version of Curtis Mayfield's "He'll Break Your Heart" couldn't be found on the latter, surely there must have been some frayed nerves caused by picking the selections. Further inspection reveals that no, that wasn't the case -- it's more a matter of slightly bungled selecting (relatively important biggies like "Lines" and "No Regrets" did make the cut, however) and the fact that previously unissued material was sitting around, just waiting to be released on a compilation like this one. It's not necessarily the quality that kept versions of Jimmy Webb's "The Moon's a Harsh Mistress," Stevie Wonder's "I Never Dreamed You'd Leave in Summer," and Randy Newman's "Marie" off No Regrets and Lines -- most of them are just as mediocre as anything found on those records. More importantly, their orphaned status often had to do with timing; many of them were appearing on several other artists' records around the time. So this isn't sock drawer emptying in the strictest sense. After the covers and MOR workouts subside, the entire first side of Nite Flights comes along to shake things up. The majority remains brilliant, full of dark disco and huge string arrangements. Including the final song of that LP side might have been too generous; the inclusion of Gary's "Death of Romance" proves that there indeed was a prototype for Glenn Frey's "You Belong to the City," a notion all the more painful when placed in the shadow of an epic like "The Electrician." The closing "Tokyo Rimshot" is Scott's surprising stab at Tomita-style electronics with a hint of Chip Davis, ideal for '70s sports highlight reels.

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