Sunday, 30 April 2017

SCOTT WALKER "THE MOVIEGOER" (1972)

Well, after one year since the first entry, it's high time for another chapter in the short series dedicated to Scott Walker's 'lost' albums, namely "Scott Sings Songs From His T.V. Series", "The Moviegoer" and "Any Day Now", which have never been officially released on CD format.

This installment focuses on "The Moviegoer" and has been prepared by our friend and collaborator Peter Goldmark, a long-time fan and connoisseur of Walker's work. Now it's my pleasure to leave the floor to him.



If we approach the aesthetics of Scott Walker looking for a cohesive element, in its fifty-five years of constantly evolving musical production, maybe we can find it in his struggle to define some unsolved zones in human mind, with a melancholy and disenchanted feel.

Talking about his albums released between 1969 and 1974, in July 2000 Walker himself declared to Mojo journalist David Peschek that «[...] They're useless records, you know? And in a sense, I was thinking about this: maybe it's better to have had that awful gap (eight years from "'Til the Band Comes In" to the four songs he contributed to the reunited Walker Brothers' swansong "Nite Flights", and another six years before a full album, "Climate of Hunter") than to have made a lot of half-assed art records like a lot of people did. [...] To just not quite get up to the standard in the time, and to have that behind you, I would rather have gone off totally and experimented with standards and had that experience than not.»

However, these record have a lush orchestration, impeccable vocal performances and the choice of the songs mirrored Walker's attitude, at that time, to the textual and vocal representation of drifting lives and unsettled personae, even if in a more accessible way compared to his previous self-penned albums.

The absence of originals has been explained by Walker in a press-release interview in 1973; at the question whether this aspect meant he lost interest in writing, he answered the interviewer that «When you are younger you let it all out, writing about personal experiences, but when you get older you become careful, and now I'm very careful about the statements I make. I want my work to be to the point and as musical as possible, but it's very hard to get that combination.»



Born Noel Scott Engel on 9 January 1943 in Hamilton, Ohio, and gifted with a really interesting voice, that later will evolve into the contradistinctive baritone timbre, the young Scott started with television appearances in 1957 and became a worldwide acclaimed star after moving to London and releasing for Philips with The Walker Brothers (...no one in the trio was really named Walker...), hits like "Love Her", "Make It Easy On Yourself" and "The Sun Ain't Gonna Shine Anymore" in 1965 and 1966.

For some months The Walker Brothers even overshadowed The Beatles in popularity becoming icons always followed by a crowd of adoring fans. However, this status never fitted with Scott's introspective personality and quickly drove him to some kind of paranoia that caused dependence from Valium, alcohol and drugs.

However, these initial months in London had a positive impact on Scott's artistic evolution: he started working with Philips arrangers refining an orchestral attitude that will remain a constant element of his solo works, even the more challenging recent ones.

From 1967 the Walkers disbanded and Scott started to produce his first solo albums, the critical acclaimed "Scott", "Scott 2", "Scott 3" and "Scott 4". In a period of feverish activity straddling the end of the '60s Walker also released "Scott Sings Songs from His T.V. Series" and "'Til The Band Comes In" at the turn of the decade.

In those years Scott worked in strict collaboration with the expert arranger John Franz, Philips A&R man, the young engineer Peter Olliff, and classical-trained directors like Wally Stott, Reg Guest and Peter Knight.

At the time the Philips studios, located at Stanhope Place, near Marble Arch, were the only British alternative to EMI's Abbey Road sound, with a recognizable intimate symphonic approach, influenced by impressionist composers like Debussy, Delius, Satie and Bartók, and blended with some jazzy influence.

This trademark sound gave its best results in some of Walker's seminal songs like "Montague Terrace (In Blue)", "It's Raining Today", "Big Louise" and "Boy Child" and it was the ideal ambient for Scott's dark and introspective lyrics, inspired by the Belgian singer Jacques Brel and French existentialist novelists and philosophers Albert Camus and Jean-Paul Sartre.


Scott Walker as he appears on the front cover of "The Moviegoer", 1972.


"The Moviegoer" contains the following tracks:

01. This Way Mary (Theme from "Mary, Queen of Scots") (2:36)
02. Speak Softly Love (Theme from "The Godfather") (3:58)
03. Glory Road (Theme from "W.U.S.A.") (3:36)
04. That Night (Theme from "The Fox") (3:05)
05. The Summer Knows (Theme from "Summer of '42") (3:25)
06. The Ballad of Sacco and Vanzetti (Theme from "Sacco e Vanzetti") (3:34)
07. A Face in the Crowd (Theme from "Le Mans") (3:28)
08. Joe Hill (Theme from "The Ballad of Joe Hill") (2:33)
09. Loss of Love (Theme from "Sunflower") (3:12)
10. All His Children (Theme from "Never Give an Inch") (2:53)
11. Come Saturday Morning (Theme from "Pookie") (3:41)
12. Easy Come, Easy Go (Theme from "They Shoot Horses, Don't They") (3:02)

This is the short credits and personnel list of "The Moviegoer" as they are printed on the back of the sleeve:

Orchestra directed by Robert Cornford

Produced by John Franz

Engineered by Peter J. Olliff

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------

All tracks were remastered from the original vinyl and from various CD compilations between November 2016 and April 2017, and are available in FLAC lossless format, along with complete artwork reconstruction and printable PDF files.

Before burning this album on CD-R using the provided CUE file you must convert the original FLAC audio file to WAV format using an appropriate software. Please have a look here if you need some help.

As usual, please have a look at the comments for the download link.


Scott Walker and John Franz in the Philips Studio, date unknown

"The Moviegoer" was released in the U.K. by Philips with cat. number 6308 127 in October 1972. Housed in a simple cover, the album spawned no singles and was poorly promoted, so it is no surprise that it didn't chart.

Despite the lack of interest in this recording, the album was re-released sometimes in 1975 with a different cover on the Contour budget label.

The album, backed by producer John Franz and sound engineer Peter Olliff, the same team that arranged and produced Walker's highly praised previous solo albums for Philips, does not contain any original song. The idea to pick up movie themes, suggested by Franz and some of the label executives, also came in consequence to the crucial role that movies had in the development of Walker's personal musical and lyrical language. Swedish director Ingmar Bergman had a major influence on him and "The Seventh Seal", a song clearly inspired by the movie of the same title, was included on "Scott 4". The intimate and philosophical nature of European movies had a great role in the fascination for European culture in the American-born Scott, who had definitively left the United States in 1965.

The more relevant lack in the albums Walker released in the early '70s, can be found in his move from songwriting. The songs penned and released during Walker's tenure at Philips in the late '60s had a great originality resulting from a complex convergence of philosophical and poetical elements, blended with the backing of majestic classical-inspired orchestral arrangements provided by John Franz and directors like Reg Guest and Wally Stott.

A few years later, in a NME interview conducted by Phil McNeill in 1977, talking about "The Moviegoer" Walker explained that «at that time I had a new manager and he told me to get a big pad. So I had this place and suddenly I had all the records I wanted to buy and became very complacent. And I thought: “if they don't want me to write anything, fuck it.” So I just sat back and copped money for whatever they want me to do. If they want me to do movie themes, man, I would pick the best movie themes that I thought were possible and I would do them - Sinatra-type stuff. I’ll imitate anybody. It was done to that. Whatever needed to be done.»


Scott Walker in session, date unknown

The critically acclaimed but commercially unsuccessful "Scott 4", generated in Walker a strong dissatisfaction towards his audience. Maybe he asked himself if his solo albums, more sophisticated and explorative than his previous output with The Walker Brothers, had been well received for their musical and lyrical qualities, or simply for the stardom aura created around his public image originating from the days when he was a teenage idol during the first half of the '60s. So, he simply gave to his audience what the recording managers thought people wanted at that time, and preferred to focus on his personal life. As a result, in August 1972 he married Mette Teglbjaerg, a Copenhagen-born girl who had given him a daughter, Lee, born sixteen months before.

However, if we look from another perspective at Walker's second solo artistic period - which saw the release of "Scott Walker Sings Songs From His T.V. Series", "The Moviegoer", "Stretch" and "We Had It All" - we can find in his refusal to write original material a transition to the artistic process of elaboration of dramatic personae, probably the most cohesive element in his whole production.

After his 1967-1970 phase, where he used to elaborate a series of small portraits - short stories about solitude, alienation from social training values and disillusion about love - since the late '70s he started to find a way to represent other themes, in a complete symbiosis between text and music.

Walker's second period and his estrangement from songwriting is originated by a crisis, a clash, a tension between the delicate, melancholic short songs he wrote in his twenties and the Avant-garde late works about torture, political dictatorship and sadomasochistic slavery of the human self, often described as a virus.

It is impossible to imagine a sudden passage from songs like "Rosemary" or "Big Louise" and songs like "The Electrician" or the whole "The Drift" and "Bish Bosch" albums, but it's easy to see a coherent evolution in his artistic struggle to elaborate the blending of text, voice and music as a persona, if we consider that this word derives from a particular kind of mask - named "per-sonar" in Latin, which translates into "resonate between an object" - used by actors in ancient Rome to empower their voice in theatres.



Side 1 opens with "This Way Mary", a John Barry composition from the 1971 British film "Mary, Queen of Scots", with added lyrics by Don Black. Its dreamy arrangement features the sound of bar chimes, an almost obsessive element in Walker's discography. We don't know if the recurrent use of bells and ringing percussion in Walker's production was started in the '60s by Philips arrangers, or if they were asked to made a relevant use of those instruments by him... As a matter of fact, in a 2014 New York Times interview, talking about the "Herod 2014" song included on "Soused", Walker declared that the constant repeating of the sound of a bell in that song represents the self of a mother struggling to protect her babies from the biblical violence of the modern world.

"Speak Softly Love", the universally known love theme from Francis Ford Coppola's gangster movie "The Godfather", was written by Nino Rota with lyrics by Larry Kusik and was originally performed by Andy Williams in 1972.

With "Glory Road", a Neil Diamond song about the illusive American dream originally included on the soundtrack to the 1970 WUSA movie, the album makes its first approach to Country music. Up to this point, this is is a totally unprecedented ingredient in Walker's discography, but this song still manages to blend well with the other more sophisticated arrangements on the album.

Lalo Schifrin's "That Night", with lyrics written by Norman Gimbel, was originally sung by Sally Stevens. The song is taken from the 1967 American drama film "The Fox", an adaptation from the D. H. Lawrence short novel of the same title. After a beautiful orchestral introduction, the singing rise from a slow-paced, luminous strings texture sustained by elegant piano jazzy chords.

"The Summer Knows", the main theme from the 1971 film "Summer of '42", a Michel Legrand number with lyrics by Alan and Marilyn Bergman, has a beautifully experimental orchestral arrangement, repetitive, nervous and evolving from a block of sound to another. The influence of this orchestral approach is clearly recognizable on Walker's "The Drift" released in 2006.

"The Ballad of Sacco and Vanzetti", a song written by Joan Baez and Ennio Morricone for the 1971 Italian-French film "Sacco e Vanzetti", is a dramatic letter written by an innocent political prisoner to his father, sustained here by an intricate but very functional crescendo arrangement.



Side 2 starts with "A Face in the Crowd", another Michel Legrand composition with lyrics penned by Alan Bergman, that was originally sung by one Peggy Taylor Woodard. The song is taken from the 1971 film "Le Mans", starring Steve McQueen; it has an Ambient strings arrangement and a general mood not too far from the best Walker/Franz/Olliff productions of the '60s.

Although credited to Stefan Grossman on the album's sleeve and centre label, "Joe Hill" is a poem written by Alfred Hayes around 1930, which was set to music by Earl Robinson in 1936. One of the most famous union songs, it tells the story of Joe Hill, a labor activist and songwriter executed in the state of Utah on a murder charge usually considered to be a frame-up. In a version performed by Grossman, it has been used in the 1971 Swedish-American production film "The Ballad of Joe Hill". Musically speaking, it is a much lighter episode if compared to those that preceded it, a very simple Pop Country song that completely differs in mood and arrangement from the rest of the album.

"Loss of Love", from the Italian film "Sunflower", starring Sophia Loren, is an elegant Henry Mancini composition which was later adapted by Bob Merrill and performed by Johnny Mathis in 1971. After "Wait Until Dark" on "Scott 2" and "The Hills of Yesterday" on "'Til the Band Comes In", this was the third time that Walker included a rework of a Mancini song on an album.

"All His Children", another Mancini tune from the 1970 American drama film "Sometimes a Great Notion" a.k.a. "Never Give an Inch" with lyrics written - once again - by Alan and Marilyn Bergman, was a successful single for Charley Pride. Sunny and clean in its arrangement, this is another Country influenced track. Unfortunately such influence also involves Walker's accent with unconvincing results.

"Come Saturday Morning" from the 1969 film "The Sterile Cuckoo" (...or "Pookie" in the U.K., as reported in the liner notes of the album...) starring Liza Minelli, was written by Fred Karlin and Dory Previn. The song was first performed by The Sandpipers, with Minelli recording her own version shortly after, and was also covered with excellent results by Chet Baker. The version found on "The Moviegoer" is a return to an elegant melancholic strings arrangement. Although being less adventurous or experimental than other tracks on the album, it starts and ends with atonal strings episodes: this is another clear link between early Walker's songs like "It's Raining Today" or "Plastic Palace People" and his more recent albums.

"Easy Come, Easy Go", the only jazzy tune on the album, was written by Johnny Green and Edward Heyman in 1934, and has become a well-known standard since then. The song was used on "They Shoot Horses Don’t They?" starring Jane Fonda, a successful Sidney Pollack's film released in 1969. Here it is treated with the usual sensibility and delicacy by Franz, and is properly chosen as the closing number.


Scott Walker in the very early '70s.


The following clips offer a preview of the remastered album; here's "This Way Mary", "Speak Softly Love", "The Ballad of Sacco and Vanzetti", "Joe Hill", "All His Children" and "Come Saturday Morning", enjoy!













...and as a bonus, here's two playbacks of "Loss of Love" and "We Could Be Flying" as performed by Scott Walker for an episode of "2 G's and the Pop People" broadcasted by LWT in the United Kingdom on July the 1st, 1972!






More information about "The Moviegoer" and Scott Walker is available here:

http://www.4ad.com/artists/83

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scott_Walker_%28singer%29

http://www.allmusic.com/artist/scott-walker-mn0000253142/biography

http://www.discogs.com/artist/31750-Scott-Walker

https://www.facebook.com/scottengelwalker/

http://www.scottwalkerfilm.com/blog/

http://diffuser.fm/the-roots-of-indie-scott-walker/

http://www.treblezine.com/celebrate-the-catalog-scott-walker/

http://lyrics.wikia.com/wiki/Scott_Walker

http://fsu.digital.flvc.org/islandora/object/fsu%3A183744

http://147mark.tripod.com/scottwalkercollectorspage/index.html

http://www.anthonyreynolds.net/writing_walker_brothers/walker_brothers01.htm

http://www.anthonyreynolds.net/writing_walker_brothers/Scott_Walker-Timeline_2008-06-25.pdf

http://www.soundonsound.com/sos/jan13/articles/scott-walker.htm

http://www.believermag.com/issues/201307/?read=interview_walker

http://thequietus.com/articles/16411-scott-walker-interview-sunn-o-soused

http://www.theguardian.com/music/2012/nov/23/scott-walker-interview

https://vk.com/pages?oid=-611497&p=Mojo%2C_%D0%B8%D1%8E%D0%BB%D1%8C_2000

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Moviegoer_(album)

https://www.discogs.com/Scott-Walker-The-Moviegoer/master/68206

http://www.allmusic.com/album/the-moviegoer-mw0000845073

https://genius.com/albums/Scott-walker/The-moviegoer

http://rateyourmusic.com/release/album/scott_walker/the_moviegoer/

http://www.adriandenning.co.uk/scott.html#tm


If you have any other useful information about this post or if you spot any dead links, please get in touch with me at stereocandies [at] hotmail [dot] com or leave a comment in the box below, thank you!

Friday, 21 April 2017

ASTRA "ADIEU / SAN MARCO" (1978)

Vieux hôtel
de périphérie
comme le miel
sur le mur chanter
la vie on routes désertes.

Bonne s'il est,
le train de l'adieu
ma grand-mère
somme en arc en ciel
le jardin du paradis superbe.

Mon métier
faire le musicien
flux de fer
comme les chemins
de bleu de blanc
je jou le violon comme Einstein.

Oui, de comburant
des chagrins
moi je n'en veux pas
J'ai conseillé le train de l'adieu.


[an attempt at reconstructing the lyrics of "Adieu" by the kind people at BattiatoForum]



During the last few years I took care about the remastering of all the Pop albums and singles produced by Giusto Pio during the '80s, which were mostly created in collaboration with Franco Battiato... In 1978, the Astra project was one of their first exploration of more commercial territories, after their previous Classical and Avantgarde experiments.

Sadly, after a whole life dedicated to music, Pio has recently passed away at the age of 91. As far as I know, he was still suffering the after-effects of a fall which occured to him in late 2015 and produced a hip fracture.

Since a detailed Giusto Pio biography has already been included in the aforementioned posts this time I'll keep it short, but I can't help to mention once again the exceptional quality of Pio's contribution to Italian music.

On a personal note, I would just like to add that I have always felt affection for the kind figure of this renowned composer and his death has particularly sadden me, even more than the many untimely and unexpected departures than happened among musicians in recent times.

To end this short introduction, I decided to offer you the translation of a Giusto Pio quote taken from an interview conducted by Stefano Mereghetti in 2010. It perfectly summarize Pio's optimistic view and attitude towards life:

«There is always hope for a better tomorrow. Also because I usually see a lot of people carrying the world on in silence. Unfortunately, the news are always full of negative events. Instead, there are so many people, often unknown to the public, who do a lot of good and nobody talks about them.»


Giusto Pio and Franco Battiato, circa 1978


Here's the track list for this 7" single:

01. Adieu (3:31)
02. San Marco (3:09)

Both tracks were remastered from the original vinyl in March 2017 and are available in FLAC lossless format, along with scans of the complete original artwork.

Please have a look at the comments section for the download link.



Produced by Luigi Mantovani, "Adieu / San Marco" was released in Italy by Elektra with catalogue number T 12310 in September 1978. During the same year the single was also released in Portugal with catalogue number N-S-57-43.

Both the front and back cover of the single feature the same picture of Giusto Pio's son, Stefano, while the centre labels omit Battiato's real name from the writing credits in favour of Kui, one of his most used aliases that debuted exactly with this release. It's clear to see that Battiato, who at the time was enjoying a respected career as an Avantgarde musician, didn't want to be associated with a Pop product...

This is how Giusto Pio recalled the days of the Astra project in an interview conducted by Marco Rapelli in 2000:

«The first song we did, pretty much at home, had French lyrics and was entitled "Adieu". On the record Battiato sang and I played the violin, but since he didn't want to be credited with his real name, he signed the song under a pseudonym and the name of the singer who appeared on the cover was "Astra". The most curious part of the story is that when we had to promote the single on TV, we sent my son Stefano, who mimed the song and also pretended to play the violin.»



On the first side we find "Adieu", which is dominated by a multitracked violin and a tight / obsessive rhythm section that keep both the melody line played on a keyboard, and the leading singing voice that takes its place, in the background, preventing us to fully decrypt the French lyrics of the song...

Interestingly enough, the same melodic line was revived the following year on "Canterò se canterai", a song performed by Catherine Spaak credited to Kui-Pio, with new lyrics by Michele Pecora. The melody was used again in 1989 in the song "Una storia inventata", written for Milva, whose lyrics also contain some references to the original version.

The flipside offers "San Marco", a slow track where piano and violin create a fin de siècle atmosphere which is definitely softer than the one expressed by "Adieu". Once again Battiato sings in French, and this time his voice is made unclear by using a... megaphone!

Here's the lyrics of "San Marco" as found on Facebook:

Le jeune homme, la peau blanche, l'écharpette brune
le matin d'un dimanche en Piazza San Marco.
C'était le réveil d'un jeudi inconnu
la fantaisie de soirs passés en compagnie.

Le jeune homme, plein de livres comme un philosophe
le corps si pâle à lui qui aurait du aller nu.
C'était le réveil d'un jeudi inconnu
leur souvenir, la donne est-ce tous en c'est tout aller.
La dernière vente c'était un paletot brun.
Bonne chance! Au revoir aux vins et aux voeux!



Franco Battiato and Giusto Pio in the late '70s


The following clips offer a complete preview of the remastered single, enjoy!






More information about Giusto Pio and Franco Battiato is available here:

http://www.giustopio.it/

http://digilander.libero.it/giustopio

http://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/Giusto_Pio

http://digilander.libero.it/gianni61dgl/giustopio.htm

http://www.stefanomeneghetti.it/2010/04/giusto-pio/

http://www.giornaledellamusica.it/approfondimenti/?id=117977

http://www.frontiereprogetti.com/index.php?startpage=eventi&id=127

http://www.discogs.com/artist/369428-Giusto-Pio

https://www.debaser.it/giusto-pio

http://digilander.libero.it/giustopio/intervista.htm

http://www.musicletter.it/?x=entry:entry111208-130248

http://dentroisecondi.blogspot.com/2013/07/giusto-pio-se-ne-consiglia-la-lettura.html

http://aliceedintorni.blogspot.com/2010/12/dedicato-giusto-pio-11-gennaio-2011.html

http://www.arte.go.it/2015/01/18/video-latelier-di-giusto-pio-1/

https://battiatosingolare.wordpress.com/2013/03/15/adieusan-marco-1978/

https://battiatosingolare.wordpress.com/tag/giusto-pio/

https://groups.google.com/forum/#!searchin/it.fan.musica.battiato/...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Franco_Battiato

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KCwPaltMbOM

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XUlfOk1gnkE

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sN7BNsxiUx8

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dnx_k6SYAUM

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x9PXZNhL0qY

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tsyp_39RFRo

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DPq9MmtaA4U


If you have any other useful information about this post or if you spot any dead links, please get in touch with me at stereocandies [at] hotmail [dot] com or leave a comment in the box below, thank you!

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