The Walker Brothers

No Regrets

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The news that the Walker Brothers were preparing a comeback was not the hottest headline of 1975. Some seven years had passed since the trio parted -- seven years during which all three members had essentially sunk from view, without even the benefit of a rabid cult following to set the pulse racing. Remember, this was pre-Tilt, pre-Climate of Hunter, pre-Julian Cope and Marc Almond, pre-all the subsequent developments which raised Scott Walker at least to semi-mythological status. In a nutshell, the Walkers were so washed up, there wasn't a towel in the world that could dry them. But somebody cared, and, by mid-summer, the Walkers were touring the British cabaret circuit and preparing to relaunch their recording career with "No Regrets," a gargantuan slab of maudlin sadness which wrung every last iota of pain from Scott's voice. Six minutes long, it defied almost every law of pop averages -- even Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody" and the Beatles' "Hey Jude" had variety on their side, as they slipped from movement to movement. "No Regrets" was one long sulk from start to finish -- and it was brilliant. The single shot up the U.K. chart, the Walkers were all over the TV, and the album of the same name was the most eagerly awaited of the season. It stunk. Okay, that's not strictly true. It had its moments -- usually the Scott vocals, but occasionally John got a gem in as well. His reggae take on Curtis Mayfield's "He'll Break Your Heart" is a widescreen epic of echo-laden summertime, rivaled in punch only by Scott's closing "Burn Our Bridges." But "Boulder to Birmingham," so recently, sweetly, energized by Emmylou Harris, moldered by comparison with her version, while Janis Ian's "Lover's Lullaby" and Donna Weiss' "Hold an Old Friend's Hand" are the kind of turgid turkeys which the original band broke up to escape from. Had they followed suit this time around, no one could have blamed them in the slightest.

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