Here goes. Word has it that this was #2 in the U.K., second only to Sgt. Pepper. This affords a bit of historical perspective, not only as to the time period, but as to just where people's minds were when this was unleashed upon the world. The Brel fixation which would serve Scott well in the future finds its birth here, and there's even some material that the casual listener might not have associated with Scott's solo work (I'm thinking of "The Lady Came From Baltimore," which is almost a country and western song. This and "Black Sheep Boy" from "Scott 2" are as close to being traditionally sentimental as he would get before the post "Scott 4" implosion.)
Imagine listening to this for the first time, coming in with the expectations of a Walker Brothers fan. "Mathilde" owes practically nothing to the Spector-esque "Wall Of Sound" which characterized Wb stuff (while there IS, arguably, a "Wall Of Sound" here, it has much more to do with a full orchestra than with an echobox.)
After the relative shock of the opening track, then comes "Montague Terrace (In Blue.)" Any illusions of harmless pop are tossed out the window with the line "His bloated belching figure stomps/he may crash through the ceiling soon." By the time side one closes with "My Death," there is no ambiguity as to where the listener is going to be taken: this is a dark, dark journey, and anyone who is looking for Summer pop anthems needs to look elsewhere.
Alert: digression approaching.
Birth of Goth? Well, let's not exaggerate: Scott could always back up his darkness with depth, whereas the later Gothic material depended more on the theatrical end. (Don't get me wrong: there is no bigger Bauhaus/Cure/Siouxsie fan than I. It's just that Scott's stuff is based on, say, a "Wuthering Heights" feel, whereas Goth is much more of a horror flick mentality. Not, I assure you, a criticism, so don't write me complaining!)
While tracing a line directly from Scott to Peter Murphy is a bit much, tracing that same line from Scott to Bowie and Roxy Music is not (and as any good Goth geek knows, those two are vital to the birth of Spooky.)
Back Home Scott 1 Scott 2 Scott 3 Scott 4 Til The Band Comes In I Threw It All... Climate Of... Tilt
The Godlike Genius... It's Raining Today
(WB) Introducing... (WB) The Sun... (WB) No Regrets (WB) Nite Flights (?) I Only Came...