Monday, January 09, 2006

cult of the week - The Walker Brothers

artist: The Walker Brothers

title: Nite Flites

year: 1978

label: Epic Records

personnel: Scott Walker (vocals, bass, keyboards), John Walker (vocals), Gary Leeds (vocals, percussion), Les Davidson (guitar), Jim Sullivan (guitar), Peter van Hook (drums), Frank Gibson (druns), Dave Macrae (keyboards), Dill Katz (drums), Mo Foster (bass), Ronnie Ross (sax), Chris Mercer (sax), Joy Yates, (backging vocals), Katie Kissoon (backing vocals), Denis Weinreich (backing vocals), Morris Pert (percussion), Alan Skidmore (sax)

tracklisting: shutout, fat mama kick, nite flights, the electrician, death of romance, den haague, rhythms of vision, disciples of death, fury and the fire, child of flames

cotw say…

cult of the week kick off 2006 with something that could hardly be accused of being obscure. nevertheless, The Walker Brothers' bizarre swansong remains one of post-punk's most defining influences, cited by Bowie as the primary inspiration for 'Lodger' and standout 'The Electrician' revealed as the blueprint for Ultravox's 'Vienna' to highlight but two examples.

with songwriting duties split reasonably evenly between Scott Walker, JJ Maus (John Walker) and Gary Leeds, attention immediately focuses on Scott Walker's quartet of stunning, at times indescribable, suite of songs that open the album. 'Shutout' and 'Fat Mama Kick' reveal a kind of decidedly dark, fractured funk that sits somewhere between Gang of Four and Beefheart, with quite remarkable vocal production to boot. the gorgeous 'Nite Flights', with its swooping bass, strings and synths, was later covered but unmatached by Bowie and the soaring psychodrama of 'The Electrician' is perhaps best experienced first hand. suffice it to say, it hosts one of the greatest string arrangements of any contemporary song. unsurprisingly, these four cannot be matched. whilst John Walker's suite veers dangerously close to The Eagles (albeit a darker version), Gary Leeds' 'Den Haague' and 'Death of Romance' are engaging, if somewhat plodding, slices of pop noir. but neither singer's voice holds anywhere near the emotional gravitas of Scott Walker's unmistakable, despondent quiver.

nothing short of absolutely essential listening.

erik -

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