The Walker Brothers

Portrait

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The Walker Brothers' second U.K. album was their most commercially successful, reaching number three, yet its quality was quite erratic. Like some other pop/rock LPs of its time, it suffered from an apparent strategy to appeal to a wider demographic than those that typically bought pop/rock records, adding a cover of Louis Armstrong's "Just for a Thrill," the moldy standard "Old Folks," and the pedestrian white-boy soul workout on Curtis Mayfield's "People Get Ready." On the other hand, this had the dramatic "In My Room," a fine antecedent of Scott Walker's moody, late-'60s solo outings. The two songs Scott actually wrote or co-wrote, "Saturday's Child" (which sounds too close to "River Deep, Mountain High" for comfort) and the easygoing crooner pop of "I Can See It Now," are OK but nothing more. The LP was filled out by a decent reading of "Summertime," covers of a couple of obscure Leiber/Stoller tunes ("Take It Like a Man" is very much in the Drifters style), and the melodramatic "No Sad Songs for Me," perfect for weeping to in French cafes. "Sad Songs" was penned by Tom Springfield (who had sung with sister Dusty Springfield in the Springfields), and is the best tune that doesn't show up on the After the Lights Go Out compilation. The 1998 CD reissue essentially makes this into a whole new product by doubling the length to 24 songs, adding a dozen cuts from singles and EPs of the era. Some of the bonus tracks are among the Walkers' best, such as "The Sun Ain't Gonna Shine Anymore," "After the Lights Go Out," "Archangel," "Deadlier Than the Male," and "Mrs. Murphy." Yet all of these are available on After the Lights Go Out, and the rarer cuts (such as John Walker-sung numbers from the rare Scott Solo, John Solo EP) aren't worthy of intense scrutiny. There's some excellent stuff on this disc, but as the best songs (from both the original Portrait LP and the extra tracks) are on After the Lights Go Out, it's only recommended to serious fans.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1 2:34
2 2:07
3 3:36
4 2:47
5 3:13
6 4:31
7 2:40
8 3:00
9 3:14
10 2:44
11 2:31
12 3:41
13 3:17
14 4:01
15
2:28
16 2:22
17 2:28
18 2:13
19 2:32
20 3:45
21 3:50
22 3:21
23 2:44
24 3:20
blue highlight denotes track pick