The Tim Buckley Archives

Album Reviews

Best of Tim Buckley
Straight/Warner WS 1881

Review by Thom Jurek

While there are numerous Tim Buckley compilations, this is the one that tells a real story of restless artist hard at work in pursuit of that slipstream where the Muse resides, album by album -- and this latter point cannot be overstated.

Buckley was, in fact, an album-driven artist who saw his work in terms of set pieces rather than collections of songs. The 2001 double-disc Morning Glory was thorough as far as it went; it leaned heavily on songs from his earliest efforts (as does this one).

Neither Morning Glory or this Best Of gives more than a glimpse of an artist who resisted compiling since he blazed his way through styles and vocal techniques in a short life. In any case, that double-disc, which contained 33 tracks, might be too much of an introduction with its hefty list price. This one is much more manageable economically.

The "best of" Tim Buckley is always going to be debatable, but Bill Inglot's selections are well-placed. There are three cuts from the self-titled debut album (including I Can't See You), and four from Goodbye and Hello ( Morning Glory is among them), as well as an alternate take of Sing A Song for You. From here the tale goes winding around a rather strange road.

The actual studio version of I Had a Talk With My Woman from Federico García Lorca is here (there was a live read of the song on the Morning Glory set), as are three from Blue Afternoon (The River and Happy Time). Inexplicably, only Strange Feelin' is included off the delightfully weird Happy Sad.

While Song to the Siren, has become a defining moment in Buckley's legend since it was covered by This Mortal Coil, there should have been another cut from Starsailor here in addition to it. It gives the wrong impression of an album that is complex, strange, and at times harsh and off-putting (it, like Lorca and Greetings From L.A.) are also brilliant.

At the time of this writing, Starsailor and Blue Afternoon remain out of print on CD. Dolphins and Martha are here from Sefronia, as is Move With Me, from Greetings From L.A. (which remains in print only as an import), but Get on Top or Sweet Surrender should have been here as well.

Finally, the title track from Look at the Fool, Buckley's final studio album, is here as well. This track offers another view of Buckley as a soul singer. He may have regarded the music as commercial and a sell-out, but there is nothing remotely "accessible" about his sound on this record. As a single disc, this one is as good as it gets despite its shortcomings.

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