Musical Express (UK) - 2001
Buckley: Morning Glory
Buckley: The Dream Belongs to Me
on a scale of one star (poor), two stars (fair),
three stars (good) and four stars
the music of idiosyncratic Tim Buckley
world was never meant for one as beautiful as you" was the line Don McLean
wrote about Vincent van Gogh in Vincent, but it could apply as fittingly
to '60s-'70s singer-songwriter Tim Buckley, whose ethereally beautiful voice was
silenced when Buckley overdosed on heroin in 1975.
Washington D.C.-born, Anaheim-reared musician never fit into one mold. He started
out as a quintessentially sensitive folk singer with an uncommonly gorgeous and
flexible voice, morphed into a folk-rocker then took a series of drastic left
turns into jazz-rock, avant-garde explorations and sexually charged white funk.
also never gave much consideration to the marketplace, typically following his
muse despite the conniptions it gave those who were trying to promote him to the
new double-CD set assembled by Elektra Records--the label that first signed him--and
Rhino Records documents the idiosyncratic path Buckley took during his eight-year
recording career--from his 1966 debut, Tim Buckley, through 1974's Look
at the Fool. Another single disc from Manifesto Records features unreleased
material from two very different periods during that career.
Morning Glory--The Tim Buckley Anthology
most set Buckley apart from other '60s folkies was his voice--high, pure, at times
even angelic. It infused his music with an otherworldly plaintiveness.
main essay in the 32-page CD booklet by Barry Alfonso doesn't get much into his
family's background, but he grew up with a verbally and sometimes physically abusive
father who'd suffered a head injury during World War II, while his mother was
said to be chronically critical of her son. That laid the foundation for the low
self-esteem that came out increasingly as his musical career
was a student at Anaheim's Loara High School when he met two friends who would
be his main musical partners for years--bassist Jim Fielder (later with Blood,
Sweat & Tears) and aspiring poet Larry Beckett, who supplied most of the lyrics
to the songs they wrote together.
first album showcased his exceptional voice on songs that at times were self-consciously
poetic, though very much in keeping with the times. He
ventured into psychedelia and political protest with his second album, 1967's
Goodbye and Hello, but he was still most at home when singing of romance.
It was here he started treating his voice less as a conduit for Beckett's lyrics
than as another musical instrument whose boundaries he yearned to expand. He eventually
incorporated growls, yelps, screams, whines, cackles and off-key shouts.
singer's ethereal voice infused his music with an otherworldly plaintiveness..."
his third album, 1968's Happy Sad, Buckley seemed to hit his stride with
a work with few direct comparisons in pop, but he was closest to the free-spirited
rock-jazz excursions of Van Morrison's seminal Astral Weeks album from
about the same period. Lyrics became less important than mood, as Buckley added
jazz vibraphonist David Friedman prominently into the musical mix. It charted
higher than any of his other albums, but still peaked only at No. 81.
than continue down that road, he returned to more conventional folk-rock forms
with 1969's Blue Afternoon. Chase the Blues Away from that album
might have laid the foundation for Chris Isaak's moodily romantic career, and
Buckley's hypnotic late-night sound foreshadowed that of Cowboy Junkies.
work took some truly dramatic turns after that, careening from 1970's Lorca,
inspired by the fatalistic view of romance of Spanish poet Federico Garcia Lorca,
to Starsailor, the 1970 album that includes Song to the Siren, probably
the most revered song in his catalog, on through Greetings From L.A., Sefronia
and Look at the Fool, inconsistent albums that often came off as blatant--even
desperate--stabs at commercial success.
two-CD set includes three songs from Greetings and just one apiece from
its two successors, Sefronia (1973) - with its powerfully obsessed reinvention
of the Jaynetts' 1963 hit Sally Go 'Round the Roses - and Look at the
Fool. They serve more to trace the curious end to a once-promising career
than to highlight his continued output. By comparison, fourteen songs come from
those first three albums.
CD booklet makes no reference to his short marriage in the mid-'60s to Mary Guibert,
nor to their son, Jeff Buckley, whose highly promising career was cut short when
he accidentally drowned in 1997 while swimming in the Mississippi River. Perhaps,
then, it's no surprise this set doesn't include I Never Asked to Be Your Mountain,
a song from Goodbye and Hello that dealt with Buckley's estrangement from
Guibert and from the son who was born after they divorced.
Buckley, The Dream Belongs To Me The
five-year gap between the dates of these two batches of outtakes and alternate
versions of songs gives a quick look at the different sides of Buckley's music.
They almost paint a portrait of a split personality between the folk and jazz-tinged
romanticism of the earlier works and the hard-charging funk and rock of the latter
songs. This is by no means an introduction to Buckley's music, but an often fascinating
appendix to one singular musician's career.