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With: Scott Walker, David Bowie, Dot Allison, Brian Eno, Ute Lemper, Lulu, Johnny Marr, Sting, Jonny Greenwood, Colin Greenwood, Ed O'Brien (a.k.a. Radiohead), Gavin Friday, Jarvis Cocker, Damon Albarn, Marc Almond, Alison Goldfrapp, Simon Raymonde, Richard Hawley, Rob Ellis, Peter Olliff, Angela Morley (a.k.a. Wally Stott), Ed Bicknell, Evan Parker, Hector Zazou, Mo Foster, Phil Sheppard, Peter Walsh
Written by: n/a
Directed by: Stephen Kijak
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Running Time: 95
Date: 19/03/2013

Scott Walker: 30th Century Man (2009)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Get Behind Me

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Buy Scott Walker CDs

Scott Walker was once a popular and top-selling pop star, both as a solo act and with the group the Walker Brothers (none of them really named Walker); he was even something of a teen sex symbol. Oddly, though he's still alive and still produces the occasional record, he has fallen almost totally off the radar. I'm a music nut and I had never heard of him. So he makes the perfect topic for a new documentary, and fortunately director Stephen Kijak does it justice. The Walker Brothers were a California band with a vaguely British sound and a kind of quasi-Roy Orbison crooning quality. They had a couple of hits ("Make It Easy on Yourself," "The Sun Ain't Gonna Shine Anymore") before Scott broke off and went solo. His first solo albums consisted of songs by other songwriters while he worked up the courage to perform his own stuff; his productions were technically pop songs, but so sonically complex and mysterious that he can only be compared to Brian Wilson. Moreover, Walker became a kind of recluse, appearing only in sunglasses, but in this film he comes across as rather normal, and in fact doesn't even make a particularly interesting interview. Kijak is allowed inside the recording sessions of Walker's 2006 album The Drift, but doesn't uncover anything really unique. What works about this film is watching writers and other musicians talk about Walker and his music; best of all, Kijak films them listening to the music and commenting upon it (and, yes, negative comments are allowed). By actually playing the music and allowing this commentary, Kijak hits upon a kind of astute music criticism, and an argument for music as challenging as this. I hated some of the music I heard, but some of it enthralled me and I was ready to go out and buy my first Scott Walker album.

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