Baker's Dozen

Artists discuss the 13 records that shaped their lives

12. Scott WalkerFire Escape In The Sky: The Godlike Genius of Scott Walker (Compiled by Julian Cope)

I’ve got all the Scott Walker albums, but this is such a great compilation. Copey picked out all the really great ones on this. It’s another really great atmospheric record. It’s all about atmosphere for me. When you put a record on, you want to create an atmosphere. This album definitely does that.

Us lot knew about Scott Walker a bit, but this record really put him back on the menu. For me, it’s the orchestration and the way he uses percussion. The mysterious lyrics, too; things like “train window girl”, they’re so good. I mean, how many times have you seen a girl when you’re sat on a train going past and think, ‘oh, she looks nice.’ ‘Boy Child’ and all that stuff; it’s fantastic. Scott, or the arranger, I’m not sure who did it, punctuated the arrangements with this weird percussion, using all sorts of unusual instruments. You don’t always hear them at first. For instance, they have that big sheet that makes the sound of thunder and lightning, and these little clicking and clopping sounds that take the music somewhere else rather than everything sounding like Mantovani or whatever…

By the time of Ocean Rain we really loved all that stuff. For me then it was Scott Walker, Love, Jacques Brel; these were the main reasons we went to Paris. I know Brel is Belgian but you know what I mean. Anyway, we went there to make a different sounding record. And it was different. The engineer we had, he wasn’t a ‘London rock and roll’ engineer, he knew how to get all these great sounds.

Me and Les took our push bikes and we cycled round Paris. We were there for three weeks. After a while you start feeling like you’re part of the scene, it was great. We got this arranger but he was dead arrogant and a bit of a turd. Me and Mac really didn’t like him. So we got Adam Peters to come over, and he did it all. There was a piano in a little lounge just outside the studio. So we’d do all the guitar bits and we’d give him a tape of that and he’d listen to it and pick out interesting themes. And he wrote it all out on piano and transcribed it. It was an amazing time.

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