Scott Engel – The Seventh Seal

• “The Seventh Seal” set to images from Ingmar Bergman’s 1957 drama-fantasy film of the same name. Thanks to guidofski.

8.6 “Excellent Cerebral Pop from the USA”

From his 5th LP “Scott 4” (Philips SBL-7913) released in November, 1969.

The quote “a man’s work is nothing but this slow trek to rediscover, through the detours of art, those two or three great and simple images in whose presence his heart first opened” (credited to the French-Algerian writer Albert Camus) appears on the back of the sleeve of the album.

Clearly, “a vain pursuit of meaningless smiles” was not for this former pop heart-throb.

As the decade drew to a close, even his recent dalliance with Jacques Brel’s cynical brand of chanson was deemed too pop. On this LP, all of the material was penned by the moody troubadour himself, and he sealed his commercial suicide by dropping the Walker and reverting to his birth name. I have to say, respect is due to this man.

The stunning opening track, “The Seventh Seal”, is based on the film of the same name by filmmaker Ingmar Bergman. What the world needs now, thought Scott, is a song about existential angst in plague-ridden 14th-century Sweden.

Writing for the Guardian, Jon Dennis described the piece beautifully:

The celebrated scene in which Max von Sydow’s knight plays chess with Death is played out here as a tambourine-heavy 60s beat ballad. The male voice choir and mariachi trumpet could be lifted from a western soundtrack. But the swooping strings and Scott’s operatic baritone lift The Seventh Seal into another cinematic realm.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the housewives weren’t listening anymore. Good art, however, always seems to find a way to survive.

You can check out my favoured album reviews for the year here.

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