Easy Listening It Ain’t

Brian Wilson was not the only sixties icon who had a specially commissioned work at the Royal Festival Hall last month. A lesser known, but extremely interesting musician, Scott Walker’s And Who Shall Go To The Ball? And What Shall Go The Ball? also premiered as a dance for both disabled and able-bodied dancers. Scott Walker wrote the soundtrack and this has now been released on 4AD records.

The formal connections between Brian Wilson and Scott Walker may be restricted to John Maus (John’s musical brother in the Walker Brothers -but no relation) teaching Brian’s brother Carl to play the guitar back in Los Angeles. But there is a lot more behind the scenes..both are far more revered in the UK than the USA (indeed Scott moved there in the 60s) and both had mid 60s popularity that was not far away from the Beatles. Both had 60s work that was critically acclaimed but eventually lost them commercial success, and both faded away for much of the 70s and 80s. And both seem to be “back” to a fair level of productivity compared to past years, this release comes on the back of Scott’s full length album The Drift from last year.

But the similarity probably ends in that Brian has always looked to his past even in his creative new music (think Lucky Old Sun) whereas Scott has disowned it in coming up with work which can fairly be described as “difficult.” If some of this earlier work could be seen as close to easy listening (though always with an edge) , his latter work has been purposely difficult, taking the listener to some very dark places that few other artists would dare go. On last year’s album, there was a song equating Elvis Presley’s stillborn twin with the fall of the twin towers….you will be assured that wasn’t a barrel of laughs, although it was certainly thought-provoking.

 And Who Shall Go To The Ball? And What Shall Go The Ball? is all orchestrated instrumental and is fairly short, at 24 minutes. It would probably work better with seeing the dance -the first movement is sparse, to put it kindly, while the remainder build up with a lot of dissonances and occasionally hints of beauty. It certainly wouldn’t be a starting point to build an appreciation of Scott’s talents, but given all the history, we’re glad he’s around and doing something creative.

Oh, and go bokke!! Some of you reading this will understand…..

2 Responses to “Easy Listening It Ain’t”

  1. Lisbeth says:

    Hi, do you know what DATE Scott Walker, went to the monestary in the Isle of Wight in 1968? A bloke on my Scott Walker fan-club asked, he wants to make a radio programme about the fellow. Have you any tips newspaper, headlines or articles about the besiege of the monstary by his fans, confirmated information of the date, or the like? VERY, very thankful, I’m just mad about this fellow or let’s say very, very fascinated. Hugs! Lisbeth/Sweden

  2. Andrew says:

    Hi -according to the book A Deeper Shade Of Blue, the first visit Scott made to the monastery was around November 1966 -the book doesn’t give a precise date so I can only guess based on the other items mentioned in that period. The book sugests he made a number of other visits in secret afterwards but the 1966 one would have been the one where all the fans besieged him. I don’t have much other info apart from the book

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