FEATURE: The Peerless and Unique Scott Walker: His Five Best Solo Studio Albums



The Peerless and Unique Scott Walker

IN THIS PHOTO: Scott Walker (circa early-1970s)/PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images/Press 

His Five Best Solo Studio Albums


MANY great articles have emerged today...


PHOTO CREDIT: Jamie Hawksworth

that remember and pay tribute to the peerless Scott Walker. His death, at the age of seventy-six, came as a huge shock - and we are not sure of all the details yet. As a musician and human, he was so different to anyone out there and he truly captivated. His wonderful music will continue to inspire and I do hope that many new fans pick up his records and discover this wonderful musician. The voice, to me, is the thing that stands out. Its range, depth and authority made every song – whether with The Walker Brothers or solo - stand out and resonate. It is sad that we have to say goodbye but, in his life, Walker managed to achieve so much and provide incredible songs – they will live through the ages and we will never forget him. There are so many wonderful records from Scott Walker (I recommend you own them all) but, if you want to come down to the top-five solo studio efforts then I have been having a think. Here, in my view, are the definitive solo Scott Walker records that ever fan and new follower...


SHOULD seek out.



Scott 2

Release Date: March 1968 (U.K.)/July 1968 (U.S.)

Producer: John Franz

Labels: Philips/Smash (U.S.)/Fontana

Key Cuts: Black Sheep Boy/The Girls from the Streets/Windows of the World


And his own songwriting efforts hold their own in this esteemed company. "The Girls From the Streets" and "Plastic Palace People" show an uncommonly ambitious lyricist cloaked behind the over-the-top, schmaltzy orchestral arrangements, one more interested in examining the seamy underside of glamour and romance than celebrating its glitter. The Brel tune "Next" must have lifted a few teenage mums' eyebrows with its not-so-hidden hints of homosexuality and abuse. Another Brel tune, "The Girl and the Dogs," is less controversial, but hardly less nasty in its jaded view of romance. Some of the material is not nearly as memorable, however, and the over the top show ballad production can get overbearing. The album included his first Top 20 U.K. hit, "Jackie"AllMusic

Standout Track: Jackie

Scott 3

Release Date: March 1969

Producer: John Franz

Labels: Philips/Fontana

Key Cuts: Rosemary/30 Century Man/If You Go Away


It's not just admirable to see him exploring new musical approaches, but also a reward for us fans to not hear yet another replica of Scott 1. Making the gentle and dreary sound of Scott 3 a welcomed breath of fresh air. Its ominous atmosphere and haunting sounds exude a rather spellbinding effect on the listener, alluring us deeper and deeper into a world of inescapable darkness. But there is a mild sense of optimism that glimmers behind all of the sorrow. One of the techniques that recurs throughout the album is the combination of melancholic orchestrations with Scott Walker's usage of a soothing vocal tone, adding a sense of hope to all of this emotional anguish. Scott 3 may not offer the accessibility of its predecessors, but it does prove that Scott Walker can go beyond the capabilities of the average pop artist. As we find him shifting his venturous instincts into different and utterly dashing shapes"Sputnik Music  

Standout Track: Copenhagen

Scott 4

Release Date: November 1969

Producer: John Franz

Labels: Philips/Fontana

Key Cuts: The World’s Strongest Man/Duchess/Get Behind Me


Scott 4 contains, for the first time, all original material and was released under the name Noel Scott Engel. The short, breathtaking album displays his full range as a songwriter and performer. The orchestrated arrangements are scaled back, with newly prominent guitars; elements of jazz, folk, country, rock, soul and even choral music add diversity. Some of the lyrical topics are new as well: totalitarianism on "The Old Man's Back Again (Dedicated to the Neo-Stalinist Regime)" and militarism on the sprightly but cynical "Hero of the War." Other highlights include the gloriously melodramatic spaghetti western-style homage to Bergman ("The Seventh Seal"), the rousing "Get Behind Me" and the understated country twang of "Duchess" and "Rhymes of Goodbye." That said, there's not really a weak link among these ten tracks. Unfortunately, what should have been Walker's finest hour heralded the start of a decline as, mysteriously, the album flopped and was soon deleted"Trouser Press   

Standout Track: The Seventh Seal


Release Date: 8th May, 1995

Producers: Scott Walker/Peter Walsh

Label: Fontana

Key Cuts: The Cockfighter/Face of Breast/Patriot (A Single)


"The Cockfighter" is underpinned by an intensity that is almost industrial in its range and raucousness, while "Bouncer See Bouncer" would have quite a catchy chorus if anybody else had gotten their hands on it. Here, however, it is highlighted by an Eno-esque esotericism and the chatter of tiny locusts. The crowning irony, however, is "The Patriot (A Single)," seven minutes of unrelenting funeral dirge over which Walker infuses even the most innocuous lyric ("I brought nylons from New York") with indescribable pain and suffering. Tilt is not an easy album to love; it's not even that easy to listen to. First impressions place it on a plateau somewhere between Nico's Marble Index and Lou Reed's Metal Machine Music -- before long, familiarity and the elitist chattering of so many well-heeled admirers rendered both albums mere forerunners to some future shift in mainstream taste. And maybe that is the fate awaiting Tilt, although one does wonder precisely what monsters could rise from soil so belligerently barren. Even Metal Machine Music could be whistled, after all"AllMusic   

Standout Track: Tilt

Soused (with Sunn O))))

Release Date: 21st October, 2014

Producers: Scott Walker/Peter Walsh

Label: 4AD

Key Cuts: Brando/Bull/Fetish


Yet Soused is surprisingly melodic, Sunn O))) provide a menacing but rich backdrop to Walker’s distinctive baritone. The sound palette may have changed, but Walker’s lyrics address familiar themes: totalitarian states (a mother hiding her babies from “the goon from the Stasi” in Herod 2014); humankind’s brutality (a crucifixion in Bull); and the movies (the sadomasochistic Brando, with its references to Marlon). And the loneliness of the long-distance pop singer is spelled out on Lullaby, a 1999 Walker song first recorded by Ute Lemper: “The most intimate personal choices and requests central to your personal dignity will be sung” – The Guardian    

Standout Track: Lullaby