story of the Buckley boys is one of the great tragedies of popular music, and
while Jeff Buckley will undoubtedly go into the annals of rock history as one
of the great unfulfilled talents of all time, his father Tim will probably be
little more than a footnote.
is a great shame, because although Tim's legacy isn't quite as majestic as his
son's, he still managed to leave an indelible mark on the music scene in the late
60s and early 70s before his untimely death of a "Speedball" overdose
in 1975 - the same lethal concoction that ended River Phoenix's life almost 20
years later. His final words? "Bye Bye Baby....."
Buckley's early psychedelic folk-rock excursions garnered significant critical
praise without subsequent commercial success (although his beautiful Song To
The Siren was memorably covered by This Mortal Coil, who were in turn sampled
by The Chemical Brothers in their early classic of the same name).
From L.A represented Buckley's first experiment with more danceable material,
and the bleakness of the album signals that this was all but the beginning of
the end. Buckley's L.A. isn't about sun, surf and movie stars - it's about seedy
nightclubs, drug dealers, love gone wrong, prostitutes and pollution. You can
almost smell the stench of desperation in Buckley's voice, which sounds at best
unstable and at times verges on completely out of control.
his songwriting skills still manage to shine through the chaos, and Greetings
From L.A has a consistency only hinted at on previous works. The obvious highlight
is the dirty funk of Get On Top, one of the album's many odes to the sexual
act. Devil Eyes explores similar themes, but contains perhaps the defining
lyrical couplet of the album - "I got so tired of meaningful looks, I
got so tired of coming up tame.....".
occasionally Buckley's lyrics cross that fine line into the realm of the offensive,
it is the unabashed baring of his deepest emotions and astonishing vocal acrobatics
which make Greetings From L.A so endearing.
in Tim and Jeff Buckley we lost two rare musical talents begs the question - why
is it always the most gifted musicians who die before their time?