I think we can safely assume that time travel is impossible (which is a shame, because I’ve already written this entire thing once and then accidentally irretrievably deleted it [although admittedly this would be footling use of such a powerful tool - shall I stop the Holocaust? No, I'll undelete the BCB piece I wrote and lost which was largely about myself. Still Marty McFly didn't do much more than make his family rich and everyone seems to love him]) so I think I can be forgiven for failing to play David Bowie on last week’s show. As I have previously explained, the cunning fox sent his new single Where Are We Now? out into the World just a few hours after I had recorded my show. Still, it provided a perfect opener for this week’s Selection Box. What is more remiss of me is the fact that the 70th birthday of arguably the greatest ever pop singer, Noel Scott Engel aka Scott Walker (anyone now yelling “Frank Sinatra!” at their computer can go and shove it up their badger. I’ve never understood the fuss over Ol’ Short Arse and never will), passed me by on the very day my first show in the new timeslot was broadcast.
Whilst I would always maintain that some of the greatest vocalists of all time are people who cannot actually sing (Mark E. Smith being a primary and quite astonishingly brilliant atonal example) when hearing Walker open his trap and, indeed, his throat I feel the pressing need to point people at the speakers and say, THAT is how you sing. I can’t imagine anything I’d like to see less than a guest appearance from Scott Walker on The X Factor, but if such a thing took place at least the result might be that the long queue of neat-haircutted chicken-in-a-basket warblers might just nudge each other and say, “Come on, we may as well go home.”
Not that such a thing is likely, of course, because these days Walker’s output couldn’t be further removed from the conveyor belt claptrap offered by ITV’s flagship God-it-goes-on-forever entertainment piece. Indeed is hard to think of another successful artist who has moved as far leftfield as Scott Walker. I cannot help but applaud any bloody-minded artist who is determined to challenge their own boundaries, experiment with new sounds and seek to explore untrodden avenues, and to hell with shifting units and keeping the bank balance high enough to afford another swimming pool in the back of a stretch Hummer. However, that’s not to say this necessarily results in a more rewarding output because, as much as I love music that takes you somewhere you’ve never been before, I must confess that some of Scott Walker’s more experimental material leaves me rather cold – indeed parts of his 2006 album The Drift were frankly unlistenable. When his new album Bish Bosch was released last month I was, therefore, left with a ummm ahh hesitation as to whether I actually wanted to hear it, let alone buy it. However, I have decided that hard-earned brass must be shelled out as the wares from the album I have heard thus far have been really rather splendid.
This includes the extraordinary Epizootics – which featured in this week’s Selection Box as our long track for the Thanking Your Kind Indulgence section of the show – a 10-minute brooding stew of tribal drums, a malevolent squealing three-note trumpet motif and Walker’s haunting vocal with the added bonus of hearing our hero intoning that we should “take that accidentally in the bollocks for a start.” What’s not to like, frankly?
A belated happy birthday to you, Noel.
Here be the tracklisting, by jingo:
Selection Box Show 248 (Listen Again here)
1. David Bowie – Where Are We Now?
from: The Next Day
2. Berna Dean – I Walk In My Sleep
from: Theme Time Radio With Your Host Bob Dylan Volume 1 (various artists)
3. Harry Mudie – Heavy Duty Dub
from: Ghostcapital III (various artists)
4. Tadao Sawai – Futatso No Hensokyoku Sakura Sakura
from: Sanka Tadao Sawai Plays Tadao Sawai
5. Clinic – See Saw
from: Free Reign
6. Joe Williams’ Washboard Blues Singers – Baby Please Don’t Go
from: Western Swing Roots 3: Jug / Washboard Bands (various artists)
7. Scott Walker – Epizootics
from: Bish Bosch
8. Scott Walker – Plastic Palace People
from: Scott 2
9. Jessica Pratt – Night Faces
from: Jessica Pratt
10. Pulsallama – The Devil Lives In My Husband’s Body
from: The Devil Lives In My Husband’s Body 7″ single
11. T.P. Valentine – Love Trap
from: The Northern Soul Story 3: Blackpool Mecca (various artists)
Patrick Thornton presents Selection Box every Wednesday at 9pm.