The Tim Buckley Archives

Album Reviews

Morning Glory: The Tim Buckley Anthology

By Matt Kot

When he died in 1975, Tim Buckley left behind nine albums in nine years, all of them commercial duds.

Yet it's possible to trace a straight line from Buckley's soul-excavating excursions through the work of Patti Smith, U2, Radiohead and his own estranged son, the late Jeff Buckley.

Tim Buckley's best-known ballad was Song to the Siren, and that haunted masterpiece alone justifies the existence of Morning Glory: The Tim Buckley Anthology, though Siren was hardly typical of his career.

If anything, this two-disc retrospective makes apparent why Buckley had such a tough time selling records: Each album brought a new sound, and the singer never quite figured out the difference between artistic daring and overblown self-indulgence. In his early songs, Buckley suggested an Elizabethan troubadour straitjacketed by overly formal lyrics, but with 1967's Pleasant Street, an anguished aggression took hold.

Soon this prim California folkie began to experiment with atmospheric jazz voicings in a way that rivaled Van Morrison's Astral Weeks. Buckley is at his most riveting in less grandiose settings; live versions of I've Been Out Walking and Troubadour showcase the joyous elasticity of his four-octave range.

He experimented to the end, sometimes brilliantly (the Yoko Ono-like screamfest Monterey), sometimes to his enduring embarrassment (the Rocky Horror-esque S&M of Make It Right), but always with a consequences-be-damned conviction.

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