Rebellious Jukebox: Scott 4
From what I remember I first heard them on a compilation that came free with Q magazine — a compilation that also introduced me to Alabama 3 who they were loosely grouped with because of their interest in country music and electronica. They always deserved to be much bigger than they were, but then I think that about most of the bands that I listen to. I have thankfully got past that stage of hating a band if they go mainstream — well, if they manage to maintain their integrity in the face of the commercial onslaught that is. Scott 4 and the group of bands they were always mentioned with looked for a brief moment like they might breakthrough but then it never happened. Even Alabama 3’s brief brush with success was limited to the theme tune for The Sopranos and that alone.
Today, while searching for an image of the band I discovered they had finally called it a day, or at least in the incarnation I knew them in. They are now the Scott 4 Free Rock Orchestra
and I look forward to tracking down their music again and seeing how it has changed and evolved because that is one thing I loved about them – they were one of those bands that weren’t interested in standing still.
They represent an interesting fusion of sounds that takes the best from both worlds and sounds like something new. Still sounds like something new. It was never really a movement — I think they called it folktronica or somesuch. If you can imagine Scott Walker fronting Kraftwerk and singing Hank William’s songs then you might be getting somewhere near the experience.
The first album Recorded In State is really interesting sonically but is a more patchy affair than the second album which has a more cohesive idea underpinning it. The first album has that feeling of a band afraid that they might only get one shot at it so they need to use every single idea they ever wanted to try out. Taken on an individual basis each track flies but together it’s not quite what you want it to be. The Works LP represents a culmination of the whole aesthetic, with the vocals and the instrumentation meshing with the lyrical concepts in a much more pleasing way. The second album is one you can loop and listen to endlessly whereas the first one is one of those in-the-mood-for-it records.
I don’t know how easy they are to get hold of but you should definitely try and get both albums and anything else by the group.