sometimes seems there must have been some indefatigable taper
who followed Tim Buckley anywhere, and
everywhere he performed during his all-too-short lifetime,
recording his shows with the determination of the most obsessed
since the release of Dream Letter: Live in London 1968 in
1990, long-lost archival recordings of Buckley on-stage have
been surfacing with remarkable frequency, and coming from
a performer who jumped stylistic borders with the ease and
elan of Buckley, it's not surprising that most of the tapes
have a distinct personality of their own.
at the Electric Theater Co, Chicago, 1968 is a document of a
concert Buckley played in the midst of the protracted efforts
to record his 1969 LP Happy Sad, and while one can hear vague
stirrings of that album's jazzy sensibility in this performance,
the sound and approach of this music is something rather different.
On this night, Buckley accompanied himself on guitar with help
from percussionist Carter C.C. Collins and a bassist whose name
has been lost to history. (Estate note. It was more than
likely John Miller)
was no stranger to improvisation on-stage, and here he lets
his muse run free, dancing about his vocal register as if
it was another instrument, weaving in and out of elemental,
hypnotic guitar runs, and interpolating bits and pieces of
other songs as the melodies flow through his mental slipstream.
If you're hoping to hear an evening of Tim Buckley delivering
a focused and coherent program of his best songs, this is
most certainly not what you have in mind.
there's something fascinating and occasionally thrilling in
this recording that sets it apart from a more "professional"
concert, and while it sometimes feels like Buckley has gotten
lost as he navigates a path known only to him, most of the
time the music takes him (and us) to a place worth a visit.
The recording sounds good, capturing the ambience of the theater
and the patient buzz of the audience, and hearing the artist
so much in the moment is a fascinating experience.
observers and folks unfamiliar with Tim Buckley's work would
be best off steering clear of 'Live at the Electric Theater
Co, Chicago, 1968', but for those steeped in his musical ideas,
it's a rare treat and a worthwhile addition to his body of
2021 Mark Deming /allmusic.com