When he was still in high school, Scott Walker made his first ventures into the record business as a teen idol-type singer (under the name Scott Engel) for several small labels. All of them sank without a trace at the time, although some were reissued (along with tracks that hadn't previously seen the light of day) in the latter half of the '60s, after Walker had reached stardom with the Walker Brothers. Looking Back with Scott Walker has 27 cuts from the late '50s and early '60s, and the music betrays not a shred of the one-of-a-kind talent that would generate his avid cult following. It's putrid stuff that would hold no interest whatsoever for latter-day listeners if Walker had not developed into something else entirely. He does sing well for a teenager (in a much higher voice than he would employ in the '60s), but the material (none of it penned by Walker himself) is of strictly hold-your-nose stuff. Much of it, in fact, isn't really rock at all, but son-of-Eddie Fisher-type pap, arranged with an oh-so-slight eye for the teen rock audience; some of it makes Paul Anka sound gritty by comparison. If you're a completist, it should be said, it's a well-assembled package, gathering most of his excruciatingly rare (and just plain excruciating) early sides in one place. Just beware that the relationship between this Scott Walker and the one that sang morose, complex ballads years later is nil.
AllMusic Review by Richie Unterberger