He was 40 when he recorded it, and it’s tempting to think of Scott Walker’s Climate of Hunter as his mid-life crisis album, but then again you could argue he was making mid-life-crisis albums well before that, in his twenties. Damon Krukowski certainly views Climate of H through the lens of ‘late style’ in his piece in The Wire magazine’s new anthology of writing about Scott Walker; and Ian Penman makes a convincing case for a reappraisal of Scott’s middle years — or, rather, there are far worse ways to spend a wet autumn afternoon than luxuriating in the strings and mellow moods of Til the Band Comes in or The Moviegoer. In a former life I was involved in getting this book off the ground — so hands-up to a partial conflict of interest — but there is some great writing in the anthology, and Rob Young supplies an insightful overview to the whole of Scott’s career — his arc away from the mainstream towards the avant-garde — which is as good a place as any to check out all the records and periods of his recording career I’ve failed to get into the programme (ie a lot). Quite a bit has been made over the years of Scott’s ‘awkward’ or even ‘excruciating’ appearance on the Tube in 1983 to promote Climate of Hunter. I didn’t think it was so bad: he comes across as slightly nervous, but immensely agreeable, and Muriel Gray doesn’t deserve the opprobrium that appears to have been heaped on her too
Here are a couple of other cool Scott W youtube clips (I love how he enters the tv studio through the arch — all very relaxed):
And this one for some nice photos and because I love the record:
A trip around the numerous fine record shops of Manhattan and Brooklyn reminded
me of the greatness of one of the maxims of Seeks Music: eclecticism rules. In just about every record store there’s a big box near the front labelled up ‘Just Arrrived’. In it can be anything, from new-in second-hand titles to just-released vinyl. That distinction between second hand and new doesn’t seem so crucial in New York; ditto strict demarcation by genre. Why not file Bill Fay next to Patti Smith, next to the No Neck Blues Band, next to middle-eastern beats, electronica, modern jazz, banjo music from the 1890s and Mississippi blues from the 20s. I don’t know, maybe it was simply because I was on holiday, but somehow record shopping in New York felt far more inspiring and surprising than here in dreary old Britain . . . As Scott would sing, ‘It’s raining today . . .’
Listen to the show here.