BY A.D. AMOROSI
This book represents a microcosm of a microcosm – pop
music’s most reclusive avant-mensch Scott Walker as viewed through the lens of
his initial volley of stardom, the Walker Brothers. That hasn’t happened since
their revival in the latter-70s. That it does so exhaustively is both thrilling
and a bit numbing – like what focusing on Al Jardine as much as the other Beach
Boys might read like.
That said, nobody’s done this – find the key to what made
un-brothers, John (Maus), Gary (Leeds) and Scott (Engel) tick ever-so-reluctantly. Making
a strange and ardent brand of dramatic pop – Legrand/Brel meets Bacharach/David
at the vortex of the Mop Top Revolution – was weird enough to begin with. Who
would bother to compete on the charts and come up with the epic likes of “Make
It Easy on Yourself” and “The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine Anymore?” And who would
reveal the private lives of three not-so-ugly Americans who’d eschew their own
sandy shores and beachy peachy AM radio disposition to head exclusively for UK fame-dom.
Musician/Jeff Buckley biographer Anthony Reynolds and the obsessive publishers
at Jawbone obviously. They dig deep into harmony vocalist John’s quiet
pragmatism (when Reynolds mentions Maus’ sense of quietude being more so than
Engel’s you fear for the former’s actual existence), the rueful melancholy that
drove their lead vocalist (even when he denied wanting to be a “modern day
Quixote” in his words) and the frustration of management, business associates
and friends who watched the Bros drift toward obscurity, into a weird-anew (1976’s
“No Regrets,” 78s wildly Op-pop inspirational Nite Flights) then again over-and-out for good with but a few Scott
Walker albums in-between.
Reynolds genuinely does his best to be magnanimously
democratic to all parties through this thick (352 pp) volume. It might come
across a bit impossible and lulling at times, but it’s a dream read
none-the-less. Good show.