If ‘Ear Worms’ are tracks that get in your head and don’t come out- ya know go round and round yer head all day, then I’m going to call repeated listening to an artist/albums/genre over a week or so ‘Heavy Rotation’.
I do this with various things- sometimes I’ll listen to JUST Prince, or JUST New Model Army (autumn/earl winter, mainly), or JUST reggae or JUST albums beginning with ‘M’ (ok, that last one isn’t true, but you get my drift). You get in a groove- and other things just wont do!
The last week or so my Heavy Rotation has been a Rotation of two halves- namely latest albums by PJ Harvey/Anna Calvi and Scott’s 3 and 4- by Scott Walker.
I have previously posted about Anna Calvi and my journey of discovery– I have now been listening to her eponymously titled album quite a bit, and the haunting guitar led soundscapes bring to (my)mind Jack Nitzsche scoring a Spaghetti Western. I have tickets to see her in October, and am looking forward to this.
Next up, P J Harvey’s latest platter- Let England Shake.
The first I heard of the new album was when 6music played ‘Written On The Forehead’ for the first time- what struck me was that the tune appeared to be two tunes playing at once, her song and ‘Blood And Fire’ by Niney The Observer (a reggae classic that I used to play out), so attention grabbed (I initially thought it was an airplay error) it was soon obvious that this WAS the song. Loved it. Couldn’t wait to hear it again. Fortunately, it was played quite a bit. So I was now looking forward to the album release- especially as the next tune they played on the station was ‘The Songs That Maketh Murder’ which had a line from Eddie Cochrane’s ‘Summertime Blues’ repeated at the end- “I’m gonna take my problem to the united nations’.
The album is ‘a grower’ and indeed, the more I listen to it, the more I see it as a genuine work of genius. The obvious comparison is with Patti Smith- both quality poets in their own right, and both using innovative musical styles.
Both of these albums are justified in their inclusion on The Murcury Prize shortlist- in my opinion.
Scott Walker’s last two ‘number’ albums are classics- and at times I find it hard to choose my favourite. Both released in 1969, research has led me to discover that Scott 3 was a successful release, whilst 4 flopped and was deleted soon after release! He released Scott 4 under his birth name of Noel Scott Engel, and this may have been the reason why. It was also his first to be entirely self-penned- as previous releases contained covers, notably of French artiste Jacques Brel.
The opening of Scott 3 is the beautiful ‘It’s Raining Today’- a song which regularly becomes an Ear Worm of mine, particularly during the English Summertime!
The album’s vocal style leans heavily towards the influence of Brel, so is croonerish, and fairly loungey but is glorious, rather than cheesey.
The following ‘Copenhagen’ is equally as beautiful- and the ending with a carousel motif is very picturesque.
Another highlight of the album is the acoustic strum along of 30th Man- which reminds me of 20 Mothers Era Julian Cope.
The fact that Scott 4 was a flop really surprised me. In style it is fairly similar to 3.
From it’s mariachi horns beginning in ‘The Seventh Seal’ the album had me hooked on first listen. And the hooks just dug deeper and deeper on each listen- this album just shades it for me…
The soul baring ‘The Worlds Strongest Man’, the anti-war gallop of ‘Hero Of The War’ with it’s fantastic ‘doo doobie doobie doop’ ending (indeed his scat [not that sort!] embelishments on this album are great), and the fantastic bassline (Bowie has described it as the best bassline he ever heard [I believe]) and story of ‘The Old Man’s Back Again (Dedicated To The Neo-Stalinist Regime)’ all make this such a strong album.
I may expand on any of these albums at a later date, but I will certainly be doing more Heavy Rotation entries. I hope that you like what I have put before you, and urge you to either get behind the new music- or indeed, indulge in lost classics- they may put you on a journey of discovery never before imagined…