Saturday, July 21, 2007


Once upon a time, when we used to have train strikes that really affected our journeys into work, I drove my workmates all the way to London. It was a hellish four hours, alleviated only by my choice of in-car listening.

"This is the Walker Brothers," I announced to my non-plussed captive audience. You see we didn't have Heart 104.2 then so the majority did not rule and I got to hear what I wanted to hear.

I never really got into Scott's solo stuff. But Betty likes him and last year she bought most of his back catalogue.

A few weeks ago we saw Alan Yentob's ("Yentob Yentob Yentob Yentob Yentob Iddle I Po" as he's known in this house) Imagine programme on Scott. Marc Almond was pontificating.

Marc Almond is the main reason I never really got into Scott Walker. Too overdramatic, I thought. Cut from the same cloth.

Then Marc said how much he hated Tilt, Scott's 1995 comeback album. So I immediately played it and loved it. And now I'm going through the solo albums from the beginning, starting with 1967's Scott.

So I'm sitting on the toilet, headphones on, at 7.15 in the morning. The first track, Mathilde is playing. I stand up, it reaches its crescendo and I flush the toilet. The flush sounds like an enthusiastic round of applause. Well deserved in my opinion.

So here's the song, introduced by a beautifully ghostly Dusty Springfield. Look at how skinny Scott's legs are! And imagine a flushing lav instead of that studio applause.

And here, to compare and contrast, is the song as performed by the song's creator, sweaty horse faced Belgian chain smoker, Jacques Brel. My best friend at the age of 8 was a handsome child. He grew up to be the spit of Jacques, though a much healthier marathon running version. This, of course, is much more authentic and rootsy. I like it but I prefer Scott's galloping take on the song. What do you think?


  1. OH dear I managed to get them singing a duet and couldn't stop it. So I couldn't cope with the flush as well.
    Jaques wins - I'd only heard him previously - he looks like a monkey.
    Scott wins on the visuals - they all had skinny legs in the sixties.

  2. That duet would probably be seen as a blasphemous act by your serious Brel fan.

    Damn American changing the words and turning it into a silly pop song!

  3. I think the child within Geoff feels he deserves an enthusiastic round of applause every time he gets up off the toilet.

    Please send me your credit card number. I've just saved you hundreds of dollars in psychiatric bills.

  4. If Sting can get applause for producing shit, I don't see why I shouldn't.

  5. I like the gallop too. My favorite of his versions is 'The Girls From the Streets', mainly for the gallop again, but also for a fine "belch" reference.
    Always admired his decision to veer off into Euro cabaret when most of his peers must have thought him bonkers.
    But Jaques is the one for me. Scott's sexiness is intrusive; Brel's cabaret intensity works because of his frail appearance - like Edith Piaf I guess.

  6. Brel looks like he sweats a lot. Wouldn't want to get caught next to him on a busy tube train.

  7. Arabella - That's Belgium 2, USA 1. I'll put Plastic Bertrand up against Richard Hell next. I like both Brel and Piaf one song at a time. A whole album by either is too much for me.

    Billy - Brel was in the Guinness Book of Records for years as sweatiest stage performer. Until Lee Evans came along.

  8. Anonymous7:19 PM

    "yentob's programme"!?! uh, try this actually: