Back to business, then. And not a bad record to get back to! Though it starts with an intro that is as folksy as anything we’ve had so far. Very of its time. Guitars round the campfire, a tambourine shakes… I’m getting Seekers flashbacks. Am I about to be underwhelmed by The Walker Brothers, for the second time…?
The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine Anymore, by The Walker Brothers (their 2nd and final #1)
4 weeks, from 17th March – 14th April 1966
Of course not. Because in come the drums. Suddenly it’s not a folk song – it’s gorgeous, string-drenched, Wall of Sound-at-its-finest, pop. Loneliness, Is a cloak you wear… A spaghetti Western lone whistle… Because, why not? A deep shade of blue, Is always there…
Then it all comes together. The drums cascade, the voices swirl together… The sun ain’t gonna shine anymore, The moon ain’t gonna rise in the sky… It’s a song about being dumped, essentially. About being sad and lonesome. But never has sadness sounded so appealing. By the time we get to the Bay-yay-ay-bay! I’m sold. Sign me up for the misery!
It’s a brilliantly melodramatic record. All the things that I didn’t think worked on The Walker’s 1st chart-topper – the slightly knowing ‘Make It Easy on Yourself’ – come together here. I think it’s because the music is so compelling, so lush and enveloping, that the OTT lyrics work. I criticised Scott Walker’s crooning on that record, but I love it here. It all culminates in the middle-eight: Lonely, Without you, Baby… through to a glorious I can’t go o-o-o-on…! It’s a song for wallowing in, with a bottle of wine and the curtains drawn.
Everything about ‘The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine Anymore’ points towards one man: Phil Spector. He must, you think, have produced this record. It sounds like the inside of his head. But, no. One Johnny Franz was on production duties. And yet the debt is clear. This is a Phil Spector record, even if he was nowhere near the studio.
It all builds to a climax, with the layered vocals on the fade-out working brilliantly. And it ends on a high, leaving you uplifted despite the subject matter. This could be a sad, depressing song, if you stripped it all back, but it isn’t. Thank God. It is ten, twenty times, better than the Walker’s previous chart-topper, and an early contender for best record in my next recap. It’s that good.
Interestingly, this isn’t the original version of ‘The Sun Ain’t Gonna…’ It had been recorded a year earlier by Frankie Valli. His version sounds a little heavy-handed, but surprisingly similar to this one. It, however, made no impact on the charts. It’s also been covered by Cher, in the ‘90s. She is perhaps the only person who could make this song sound more OTT than Scott Walker…
This was the peak of The Walker Brother’s success, their popularity such that their fan-club allegedly had more members than The Beatles’. They had several further hits, and yet disbanded in 1968, largely due to Scott Walker’s dissatisfaction with being seen as a mere teen-idol. I can’t say I’ve listened to that much of his solo output, though I do know it has a reputation for being ‘challenging’… That’s probably what’s putting me off. It’s also been very influential: David Bowie, Pulp, Radiohead, The Arctic Monkeys… the list is a long one. He passed away in March of this year. John Walker had died in 2011, leaving Gary as the sole surviving ‘brother’.
But we’ll leave them here. Bowing out with their crowning glory. A song I knew was good, but hadn’t realised quite how good. Yet another supreme mid-sixties pop moment. Keep ‘em coming!
Catch up with all the Number Ones so far, here: