Somebody, somewhere finally got their wish, but sadly a compromise was made. That wish was to finally see the reissue of the rare Scott Walker recordings from the late 1960s and early 70s that until now have never been issued on cd (even with the In Five Easy Pieces box set released last year). Those rare recordings include the albums Scott Walker sings songs from his TV series (1969), The Moviegoer (1972) and Any Day Now (1973) and some earlier Walker Brothers material. But rather than create a compilation solely for this rare material (in an attractive 2cd set, for instance), somebody came up with the concept of combining a 2cd set with one disc dedicated to Scott's classic material and another disc dedicated to this collectible material in a collection called simply enough Classics & Collectibles. This same concept has been used for compilations by Dusty Springfield and Peggy Lee.
Previous Scott Walker compilations had their place. Boy Child: The Best of Scott Walker 1967-1970 from 1992 did a fine job of offering some of his best self-penned tunes with a few tasty rarities. No Regrets: The Best of Scott Walker & the Walker Brothers from 1992 did a fine job of culling a collection with both Scott Walker and Walker Brothers material. The Best of the Walker Brothers from 2000 looks even better with a host of rarities in the tracklisting. It's Raining Today: The Scott Walker Story (1967-70) from 1996 was the first US released compilation. In Five Easy Pieces was a unique box set. And of course, all of Scott's prime 60s albums have been reissued (both solo and with The Walker Brothers). Even the two-fer with Stretch/We Had It All from 1997 on BGO served a purpose by combining those two rare albums in one place. But, this Classics & Collectibles is a hodge podge collection, which won't really please either the novice or the fan.
The problems start out right away: the classics disc is sequenced horribly. Rather than one up the other one disc compilations that already exist, this disc offers up largely the slower paced material from Scott's best work. That means starting out with the snoozers If You Go Away and I Will Wait for You. Even the next track, In My Room by The Walker Brothers, which is a great track shouldn't be so early on a compilation of Walker material (especially following two mellow covers). And it just keeps going like this.
The rarity that is thrown in on this disc is also somewhat surprising. A mono version of The Walker Brothers' The Sun Ain't Gonna Shine Anymore which lacks the impact of the stereo mix and features more vocals by John Walker than Scott.
Every once in awhile one of Scott's more rousing numbers come out of the blue, like Mathilde and Jackie, but since they are surrounded by his mellow material, they come off as blaring and in your face. It's like someone threw in all of Scott's best of collections in a playlist and arbitrarily came up with this disc. Don't get me wrong, the first disc is classic material, but it's not well put together. This first disc will not win over an new fans and it won't please those who know his material the best since it lacks some of his truly classic material.
The fans do win out though with the second disc to a degree. The second disc fares a little better since it's mostly material that has never been released on cd (the Luiz Bonfa penned Gentle Rain did appear as a bonus track on The Walker Brothers reissue of their Portrait album and John Barry/Don Black penned The Me I Never Knew and Michel Legrand penned I Still See You appeared on The Walker Brothers' Singles Plus compilation). But it's not a disc that will win over any new fans, and will only please the fans who have been lusting for this material on disc for years. But those fans would've been much happier with a 2 disc set dedicated to this material wholly, one that combined Scott Walker sings songs from his TV series (1969), The Moviegoer (1972) and Any Day Now (1973) with some earlier - and perhaps later - Scott Walker and Walker Brothers material that the compilations and box set missed.