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Scott Walker: 30 Century Man
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Scott Walker: 30 Century Man – Review

WHAT’S IT ABOUT?

A documentary about Scott Walker. “Who?” you might ask?
Remember the mid-sixties hits “The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine Anymore” and “Make It Easy On Yourself”? Well, they were by the Walker Brothers – not brothers and none of them called Walker, although oddly, Scott Engel ended up keeping his mis-moniker for the rest of his career.
And that’s what this film charts – how a middle-of-the-road pop crooner from the 1960s ended up one of the most idiosyncratic avant-garde singer-songwriters of his generation, thanks to a series of self-titled albums (Scott 1, Scott 2, Scott 3 etc) and the pivotal Nite Flights album, when the Walker Brothers reunited, ten years after their prime.
Despite becoming one of the least prolific musicians of the past couple of decades, his influences have been felt across the world of rock music, through artists such as Radiohead, Jarvis Cocker, Damon Albarn, Sting and David Bowie – who even ended up becoming an executive producer on this project.

WHAT’S IT LIKE?

There are several problems with this worthy attempt at a music documentary. Chief among them is that Scott Walker isn’t really famous – or indeed interesting – enough for a mainstream audience to want to give up an hour and a half to watch a film about him.
Especially coming out within weeks of the Joe Strummer documentary, it just highlights how this is a guy who shut himself away from society after a handful of pop hits, early in his career, and quietly reinvented himself – not as a popular or successful musician, per se, but as someone whose inimitable style – his poetically surreal lyrics sung in a lamentably mournful warble – inspired many of the most influential musical artists of the generations that followed him.
There are some nice touches — as we watch the likes of Jarvis Cocker and Damon Albarn listening to Walker’s music, but there’s so little footage of the man himself, that once we’ve seen stars waxing lyrical about him and excerpts of an exclusive interview with the reclusive musician, the rest of the time is padded with a few still photos and specially created animations, designed to play in time to the songs – although as he observes himself during the documentary, some people might find it a stretch to describe his more recent work as songs in the first place.
For most people, neither the man nor his music will get the heart pumping and much of the pontificating is too theoretical or etherial to have much widespread appeal.
This film, like Scott Walker’s music, is an acquired taste, and quite possibly the vast majority of people who would find either interesting are the artists and musical technicians featured in the documentary itself.

opens nationwide 27th April 2007

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