Scott Walker: 30 Century Man

Scott Walker: 30 Century Man


Reviewed by: Leanne McGrath

From Sixties boy band icon to reclusive, experimental genius, Scott Walker has enjoyed a career with more ups and downs than a brothel maid's drawers.

Stephen Kijak's documentary charts his early days as a bassist-for-hire on the Sunset Strip, his fame as one third of 60s supergroup The Walker Brothers and his subsequent solo career, plummet to obscurity and comeback as one of the most boundary-pushing musicians around.

It's informative, highly entertaining and often hilarious - with our director revealing more about our camera-shy hero than anyone has ever managed.

Numerous collaborators, friends and fans sing his praises, including David Bowie - also the film's executive producer - Radiohead, Jarvis Cocker, Johnny Marr, Marc Almond, Brian Eno, Damon Albarn, Sting, Neil Hannon and Lulu. Yep, the 64-year-old has quite an impressive bunch of admirers who all gush praise for his distinctive deep, crooning vocals, haunting melodics and insightful, picture-painting lyrics.

We follow Scott's rise to teen idol, solo star and bland middle-of-the road crooner before witnessing his phoenix-like rise back to fame with comeback album Nite Flights.

Excerpts from his music play in the background against montages of pictures and press cuttings - far more interesting than the colourful, psychadelic sequences reminiscent of looking at a lava lamp, which appear later.

It takes him six years to release a follow-up, Climate of Hunter, then nothing for another 11, until 1995's Tilt. By now, the pop idol who crooned Make It Easy On Yourself is gone and an experimental composer is born. Some loved it, others slated it, Marc Almond called it "rubbish" - but all praise Walker's forward-thinking approach.

From here, we skip ahead another decade to watch Scott record his next album, The Drift, released in 2006. It's his most radical work yet and this is the first time he has ever allowed cameras behind-the-scenes - and you couldn't script anything so bonkers.

His catalogue of "instruments" includes a donkey braying, a plant pot on top of a dustbin being scraped along a table and a slab of beef, which a rather bemused percussionist has to punch repeatedly.

Walker claims he is a poet and composer of the unconscious and it is the logic of a dreamworld. He can't give a name to what he is doing now. An admirer sums it up by saying he is like an explorer - the territory he ventures to might not be hospitable but you have to admire him for going there.

Music fans shouldn't miss this documentary - it's an affectionate, thoroughly enjoyable biography and tribute to one of music's greatest, if not terribly prolific, musicians.

Reviewed on: 15 Jul 2007
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Documentary about one of rock's most enigmatic and influential heroes.
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Director: Stephen Kijak

Starring: Damon Albarn, Dot Allison, Marc Almond, David Bates, Ed Bicknell, David Bowie, Al Clark, Jarvis Cocker, Cathal Coughlan, Rob Ellis, Brian Eno

Year: 2006

Runtime: 95 minutes

BBFC: 12A - Adult Supervision

Country: USA, UK

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