Scott Walker

The Old Man's Back Again (Dedicated to the Neo-Stalinist Regime)

Song Review by

Scott Walker’s passionate leftist political beliefs had been no secret by the time “The Old Man’s Back Again” was written and recorded, but the event which prompted one of his most pointed songs found him tackling not a right-wing dictatorship (as he later would with “The Electrician”) but a left-wing one. The subtitle – “Dedicated to the Neo-Stalinist Regime”) specifically refers to the repressive Czech government that overthrew the Prague Spring era in 1968 with Soviet military help, the ‘old man’ himself being the ghost of Stalin returned to a horrific new life. “The Old Man’s Back Again” found Walker blending a symbolic lyric of destruction and death with a striking combination of rumbling, prominent funk bass and a post-Ennio Morricone western-orchestral arrangement, stabbing strings courtesy Peter Knight and mournful, almost Russian chorale-tinged wordless calls coming to the fore. As is often the case with Walker, his smooth singing power sugars the pill, exchanging open rage or a cynical snarl with a stance that’s uneasy listening, at once romantically evocative and bitterly condemnatory.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
Boy Child: 67-70 1992 Universal Distribution / Universal 3:43
It's Raining Today: The Scott Walker Story (1967-70) 1996 Razor & Tie 3:42
Morning Side of Love, Vol. 2 2003
Various Artists
Irma Records 3:41