Below is an excerpt from a Diary entry from 15.07.2005.
During this time I was researching my book : “The Impossible Dream – The Story of Scott Walker and The Walker Brothers” which was eventually published by Jawbone Press in 2009. (I have a few signed copies you can buy direct from me at £20 (This includes P&P). Paypal is email@example.com). OR You can buy it here.
A couple of years after this Diary Entry, some of these Outtakes were released on the sumptuous Walker Brothers Box Set
But a few songs heard that day remain in the vault. Read on…
We are headed for a Universal owned tape depository/library in St John’s Wood, to listen to ‘Gulp’ unreleased, Scott/Walker Brothers stuff from the 60’s.
We get there late, of course, I’ve confused the directions no doubt, and am sweating cobs by the time the lovely Jane, whom I’ve only emailed up to now, escorts me and my very own Sancho Panza Paul Feneron and I to the playback suite.
With only an hour to go already, (We have very limited time here) I start picking Master tapes out of the box. I’m increasingly feverish..my camera battery runs out…balls, balls…
I do of course have a list of songs I need to hear, culled from the expansive tape and recording schedules I’ve been sent by Jane. (Where are they now? -ED) But even so, I’m surprised at what I find in this hallowed Box. Delighted…hypnotized.
I decide to go in easy and listen to something I’m familiar with. We run a tape with b – sides on… I ain’t ready for brand new stuff just yet..I’m getting a good rare vibe off of this…so true to form I’m prepared for imminent disappointment. The tapes roll via the lovely young geezer manning the board ; A Chap named Ben who recently remastered the (2004) Japan re-issues. (Synchronicity)!
The first thing that comes out of the speakers is the ambience. Having written so deeply these last few months about people I’ve never met, (Johnny Franz, Reg Guest, Ivor Raymonde, John and Scott)…I feel as if I’ve been haunting them. And yet as actual people they’ve been silent to me, until now.
All of a sudden, there they are, as if they were on the other side of the studio Glass. I hear keys clinking, pencils on paper, cigarettes being lit, bottles being screwed, unscrewed, mumbling : This is the sound of Philips Studios, Stanhope place, 1966! An orchestra member says something about the Musicians union and then a posh BBC voice right up front, cuts through the Ambiance..’OK, alright. Ready Scott’? And then right in your face, speaker left, Californian breathing, an amused air and the familiar low voice, although weirdly, sounding so young..’Uh, Yeah, OK Peter’? (Arranger Peter Knight)? Then a count in and oh heavens…The orchestra fills the room…The room fills with colour…and it sounds so present! So NOW. Having spent a decade in Studios perusing my own music I’m familiar with the process of hearing players while not seeing them, and it’s just like this…now…There’s no sense of time lapse. We’re all here now…its as new sounding as tomorrow…
And once my heart as caught up with my blood there’s another surprise; Scott’s singing. What we’re hearing is obviously a guide vocal, for the sake of the orchestra recording (Scott (and Dusty) would sometimes return illicitly to the studio in secret at night to perfect their vocal takes) and I’m surprised at the lack of natural commitment in the vocal. The voice, reverb – less and in your face, (I ask Ben to isolate the vocal, turning the orchestra right down) is frequently off key and wavering, the breathing all over the place. This means that Scott did make an effort when recording a master take, because I’ve never heard him sound like this before, even on tapes of live shows and the like. I had assumed that the perfect pitch, phrasing, diction and breathing came effortlessly…the other thing baldly apparent is that Scott sounds so young. I’m moved when I consider the balls of this 22 year old at getting his own composition through such a massive machine as the Philips recording set up, the massive mechanics and the ribbons of Red tape that Scott had to navigate to get his own glorious songs recorded. After all, is ‘Archangel’ (What we’re hearing now) pop?
What’s also apparent is how much John Maus would colour the tone. He is absent at this stage and you really notice it. But there’s something so…moving about hearing that naked voice in what sounds like a confined space while Reg Guest’s orchestra rages outside.
(And the lyric is ‘Rides in on the moon’. I always thought it was ‘Riding..’).
By the time the song has ended –and yes-you hear it end, the drumsticks clomping down onto Ronnie Verrell’s lap, the ambience returning, abhorring silence…Scott mumbles something and it’s as if I could open the door and he’d walk in now as he was then, Slip on shoes, corduroy jeans, red scarf (?)
Paul and I are stunned, ecstatic.
And then the researcher in me takes over and I check my spinning head.
On we go. What’s this? ‘Lovers’ at one minute seven seconds, recorded immediately before ‘Copenhagen’. Ahhh…a beautiful vignette, one of those sublime shorts Scott was so good at, like ‘On your own again’ and ‘Always coming back to you…’ The singing more handsome this time, more assured…but still surprisingly off key…This is followed by a few John songs, with a terribly recorded, distorted vocal, (sounds good actually) on ‘In the evening time’…then there’s more studio ambience and we’re back to Scott in the booth, the sound of keys rattling in the singer’s pocket as he waits impatiently for the Orchestra to get it together.
‘When am I going home’, a Tony Bennett vibe…unremarkable but followed by : What’s this; ‘The Sun Ain’t Gonna shine anymore ’(Reject version)! Maybe this was the first version they recorded, with the ‘deaf guitar players’??
Alas no. Its as triumphant as the one that stalks the world even today, the only noticeable difference being the vocal harmony/phrasing during the break down…the harmonies so spot on, John’s voice circling like a halo around Scott’s Caramac croon…
Just as Paul and I are getting used to this endless conveyor belt of treasures we’re once again stopped in our tracks as a totally unknown song raises itself out of a sea of sound like a God surfacing from the Aegean Sea : ‘Overgrown Paths’, recorded during the same session for ‘Lights of Cincinnati’, perhaps intended as it’s original B-Side? Another – until this day – unheard Engel original.
‘Overgrown paths’ is absolutely beautiful and massive, as good as anything Scott did during those years, and the arrangement does indeed ramble along Escher like sonic paths ; It’s huge, sprawling and wordy, orchestral roads and vales…Obviously a forerunner or half brother of ‘Little things that keep us together’, with a similar melody and rhythm, but different words and arrangement… And Unheard all these years, gathering dust…
Jane comes in and says we can come back at a later date. (Why Didn’t you? -ED) Oh Boy! I guess our enthusiasm and sincerity has come across somewhat…but we have to finish today by 5-45 cos Ben is going to see Queen at Hyde Park. Time for just a few more. We play ‘I still see you’. I’d read that Scott was blitzed on Vodka during this and wanted to see if it came across in anyway…but no, if anything this is the best vocal so far..I guess it’s the final composite take.. Ah yes, this is the master….Languid and muscular, just superlative, baby…
One more, one more.
‘The Desperate ones’ from Scott 3.
The opening Piano chords are familiar, that Satie vibe but where have I heard this before? Oh my Sweet George.
Its ‘Les Desesperes!
! My favourite ever Brel Song!! Of course.
I put the headphones on for this. In his understandable excitement Paul is often talking over the songs and rushing up to me with new discoveries from the box, (There are Dusty Outtakes in there too) his sweet face flushed with excitement, bless him, so I need to hear this one all by myself.
Headphones transport me back to a room off of Marble arch, Summer 67…
This is just so great…I have never even heard an English version of this song….my favourite Brel, bought in Morlaix all those years ago…
Scott is totally into it and when not singing you can hear him humming faintly off mic, totally inside the song. (A true singer sings during the song even when not singing)…why wasn’t this completed? Ach…I just sit back close my eyes and enjoy, suffused with it. Oh, don’t end…please don’t go, as Dusty sang…
We’ll that’s it for me, lets end there.
Except Paul wants to listen to Dusty out-take. ‘Magic Garden’. Fine by me. I sit back, satisfied and imbued by all this rare, newly un- bottled beauty as Paul jitterbugs around the room.
I feel like we’ve let a Genie out of a lamp…and for a few minutes, the air is full of something rare and fine, magical, weird and good.
I reach out to grab it, put it in my pocket. But it’s gone…