Many years ago Andy Roberts released an album called Urban Cowboy and although the two albums are very dissimilar it sprang to mind the first time I played Walk Like A King. I had an image of Robert Mitchum sauntering down a dusty street in some western town – even though the album is set in New York.
The king of the title, in case you can’t make out the small print, is Dylan Thomas and the set, which Terry describes as an “abstract album”, is inspired by Thomas’ journey to New York in 1949. The opener, ‘Springtime In New York’ doesn’t mention the king and is a product of Clarke’s imagination but the second song, ‘(Dylan Thomas) In New York’ is more specific.
After that, the record goes its own way, or several ways. ‘The Blue Doors’ turns its spotlight on city night-life and references (actually pinches a few bars from) ‘Green Door’ and then we are introduced to a set of characters. ‘Miss Winters And Miss Monroe’ are obviously Shelley and Marilyn; Mickey Spillane – in the shape of Mike Hammer – has a bad dream and Walter Hyatt is paired with Thomas, although they never met because Walter was born in 1949, the year of Thomas’ visit. I spent a long time while listening for the second time in looking up some of the personalities involved, you understand.
The reggae-tinted ‘1953’ is described as “a big year”. Not only did it see the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II but also the death of Dylan Thomas and, coincidentally, the death of Hank Williams. If you were wondering why a country album should celebrate Dylan Thomas – that’s why. The song also name-checks The Drifters, Lieber and Stoller and Clyde McPhatter – what more could you want?
It would be a pointless exercise to attempt to describe all sixteen tracks on this album. They range across seventy years and both sides of the Atlantic but I will you that Walk Like A King is a brilliant record and I’ll also tell you that its other inspiration is Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band – take a close look at Peter Blake’s cover while you’re listening.
‘Laugharne 68 (The Drunker Guitar)’ – official video:
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