The Walker Brothers
John, Gary, and Scott
Listen – After the Lights Go Out – MP3
Here I sit, late on a Saturday night, not much to do and I figured the time was ripe to whip a tune up here into the blog-o-sphere.
I’ve been a big Scott Walker / Walker Brothers fan for a long, long time.
Though I was certainly aware of ‘The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine Anymore’, I never looked any deeper until the UK ‘Boy Child’ comp (a best of solo Scott annotated by Marc Almond) came out and was subsequently hailed by the rocksnob cognoscenti as a must have (and have it I must-ed…).
Though the post-Walkers Scott stuff is a lot more personal and high-concept than the bulk of the Walker catalogue (with the exception of some of the stuff on their third UK LP), the roots of his sound are there from just about day one (not including his oddball early Brylcreem teen-idol attempts).
This evening’s selection – a longtime fave – came to mind while I was reading the recent Phil Spector bio ‘Tearing Down the Wall of Sound’ (which you should all check out). Though I’ve never been a big follower of Spector’s girl-group stuff (which is probably more a reflection of how jaded I am and how deeply ingrained those records are in the fabric of American musical life), I bow down at the altar of his mighty influence. From the Caverna Spectora emerged the Jack Nitzsches, Sonny Bonos and Brian Wilsons (among many others) of the world, where they staggered into the daylight, planting themselves in the record factories of the world to spread his dark gospel.
This evenings selection is not only a great record on its own merits (and a longtime fave of mine) but a prime example of the Spector vibe once (and a half) removed.
Though I haven’t been able to nail down who exactly produced ‘After the Lights Go Out’ (I suspect it’s Nik Venet, the Nitzsche did produce the Walkers at one point), they were clearly attempting (successfully on an artistic level, fairly unsuccessfully commercially) to hitch their wagon to Spectoriana in general and the Righteous Brothers specifically.
The record is a masterwork of carefully layered Wall of Sound-ism, from the opening bass notes, percussion bits and pieces, Scott’s opening baritone and right on into the tsunami of brass, strings and superhuman harmonies.
The tune was penned by one John Stewart, a friend of Scott’s who penned a couple of excellent songs for the group. Scott has a huge (deserved) cult following, and among UK-psyche heads, Gary Walker and the Rain are very highly regarded (if you get the chance grab a reissue of ‘Album Number One’ and prepare to have your mind blown).
Anyway, slap on the headphones and let this one ricochet around your Eustachian tubes for a while. You will not regret it.