Sunday, December 13, 2009

The Sun Ain't Gonna Shine Anymore, Walker Brothers (1966)

Here in America, we know a lot about the British Invasion, but during that momentous cultural upheaval, the odd American combo crossed the pond and became bigger there than they were here.  The Walker Brothers (not their real name) was one such group.

I knew nothing about them until now, just that I loved their second deliciously melodramatic hit, The Sun Ain't Gonna Shine Anymore.  It was the perfect song for teen girls prone to heartbreak which, let's face it, is all teen girls.

Written by Bob Gaudio and Bob Crewe, who were responsible for many hits for the Four Seasons, the song was first sung and recorded by Frankie Valli but was not particularly successful - I certainly never heard that version. It's a bit of a different animal, not as operatic as the Walkers performed it.  Produced by Johnny Franz, who was the British equivalent of Phil Spector, the song's orchestral stylings enhanced its effectiveness and was pretty unusual for the time. His touch can also be heard in Dusty Springfield's output.   

The Walker Brothers = Noel Scott Engel, a bass player from Ohio who moved to California, and John Maus and Gary Leeds.  They apparently just liked the name Walker Brothers, perhaps modeling themselves after Righteous Brothers Bill Medley and Bobby Hatfield, to whom they've been compared.  Another American singer known to them, P.J. Proby, had moved to England to do his thing and become a star, and the guys liked the idea enough to pack up their belongings and become expatriates.  Good decision - they were huge, for several years at least.  Their concerts were screamfests.  My friend Sheila, who is a major Cat Stevens aficionado, found this intriguing link that captures the tone and reveals the Walkers' touring acts at that time were Stevens, Engelbert Humperdinck, and yes, the Jimi Hendrix Experience!  That's one out-there picture.

Their first hit on both continents, in 1965, was also a crowd pleaser, a Burt Bacharach-Hal David number called Make It Easy On Yourself, a song first recorded by Jerry Butler in 1962 (here's his version). But the group disbanded after a few years in the limelight, reuniting briefly in 1978 with an album called Nite Flights.

The history of the solo career of Scott Walker, as he became known, and which continues to this day, is quite a tale in itself, but would take up an entire post.  Another blogger has already taken care of that for me, though, so I will just refer you to his well-researched and hilarious recounting


KarmaSartre said...

A great selection. Thanks for the historical perspective. Scott has such a powerful voice. Also, enjoyed the "Another blogger" history.

Mary said...

I love the Alan Rickman/Juliet Stevenson rendition of this song in the film "Truly Madly Deeply."

Sheila said...

Shows you how much I know, when I didn't think any of the Walker Bros were in the pic with Cat Stevens!
I do love that song, though. And I think I remember hearing Frankie Valli's version, too!