Hailing from America but transposed to England in the mid-60s, this hit trio comprised Scott Walker, John Walker and Gary Walker. Leeds, an ex-member of the Standells, had discovered former session bass player Engel appearing with Maus in an ensemble called the Dalton Brothers. In 1964, the trio changed their name to the Walker Brothers and following a false start at home decided to relocate to the UK. After arriving in February 1965, they fell into the hands of manager Maurice King and were soon signed to Philips Records. Their debut, 'Pretty Girls Everywhere', featured Maus as lead vocalist, but it was the Engel-voiced follow-up, 'Love Her', which cracked the UK Top 20 in May 1965. By this time, Scott was the chosen 'a-side' main vocalist, with Maus providing the strong high harmony.
The group neatly slotted into the gap left by Phil Spector's protégés the Righteous Brothers, who had topped the charts earlier in the year but failed to sustain their impact in the UK. As well as emulating their rivals' vocal power, the Walkers boasted film star looks and swiftly emerged as pin-up idols with a huge teenage following. On album, the trio played a contrasting selection of ballads, soul standards and occasional upbeat pop, but for the singles they specialized in high melodrama, brilliantly augmented by the string arrangements of Johnny Franz, with accompaniment directed by either Ivor Raymonde or Reg Guest. The lachrymose Burt Bacharach/Hal David ballad 'Make It Easy On Yourself' (originally a US hit for Jerry Butler) gave them a UK chart number 1, while the similarly paced 'My Ship Is Coming In' reached the Top 3. Their neurotic romanticism reached its apogee on the Bob Crewe/Bob Gaudio composition, 'The Sun Ain't Gonna Shine Anymore', in which Scott's deep baritone was wonderfully balanced by John's Four Seasons-styled soaring harmony. The song topped the UK listings for a month and gave them their second and last US Top 20 hit. Thereafter, there was immense friction in the Walker Brothers' camp and their second EP Solo Scott, Solo John (1967) neatly summarized their future intentions.
Although they continued to chart in the UK between 1965 and 1967, the quality of their material was generally less impressive. Pete Autell's '(Baby) You Don't Have To Tell Me' seemed a weak follow-up to their grandiose number 1 and commenced their gradual commercial decline. Another Bacharach/David composition, 'Another Tear Falls', fared little better at number 12, while the film theme, 'Deadlier Than The Male' could only scrape the Top 30. The much-covered Bert Berns composition 'Stay With Me Baby' retained the melodrama, but there was no emphatic comeback and in early 1967 the group elected to break up. The emotional impact on their loyal fanbase should have pushed their farewell single, 'Walking In The Rain', to the upper echelons of the chart but as the New Musical Express reviewer Derek Johnson sadly noted: 'Walkers Last Not So Great'.
As soloists, the Walker Brothers suffered mixed fortunes with only Scott troubling the charts, but it was still a surprise when the trio reunited in 1975. Their comeback album, No Regrets, consisted largely of extraneous material, but the classy Tom Rush title track returned the group to the Top 10 for the first time since 'The Sun Ain't Gonna Shine Anymore', released nearly a decade before. A follow-up album, Lines, was similar in style to its predecessor, but for their swan song, the self-penned Nite Flights, the trio produced a brave, experimental work, with oblique, foreboding lyrics and unusual arrangements (most notably on 'The Electrician'). The album was a commercial failure, but by the time the initial sales figures had been computed, John, Gary and Scott had returned to their individual ventures and concomitant obscurity, although the latter remains a cult figure in the UK and Europe.
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