Saturday, September 21, 2013

Esther Ofarim does Scott Walker

I posted previously about Esther (born Esther Zaied, in Safad) and Abi Ofarim, their 1968 #1 hit "Cinderella Rockafella," and the fact that Esther's parents were Syrian Jews.

This is just a footnote. But a beautiful one.

It's Esther who performs Scott Walker's "Long About Now" on his 1970 album, 'Til the Band Comes In. As Dangerous Minds (where I learned about the recording) tells us, she really kills it.

Why did an Israeli singer, best known for a novelty song, do a guest vocalist on a Scott Walker album?! According to Dangerous Minds, the lyrics were just too much for him to sing. And -- his manager at the time was the Israeli Ady Semel, who also managed Esther and Abi. Strange convergence. And yet, what a result. Here's Esther doing the song live on the Rolf Harris Show in 1970. (Yeah, that Rolf Harris, who recorded "Tie Me Kangaroo Down Sport" 1959, and in 2013 was charged with child sexual assault. His show ran on BBC1 from 1967-74.)

The album, 'Til the Band Comes, was a commercial and critical flop. But as you know, Scott Walker's reputation has been growing and growing since the mid-eighties, and he is now considered an important experimental and avant-garde artist. A far cry from his pop days as part of the Walker Brothers, and this 1966 hit (the one I remember the best, as it was #1 in England -- and I lived in Lebanon and therefore it was the UK charts that we had best access to.) (Scott is on the right.)

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