Buckley's voice probably either sends a shiver up your spine or sends a shudder
through your body.
His voice either disarms you with its rich resonances or strikes you as absurdly
histrionic. If truth be told, for too much of his time on this planet Buckley
was a name for Elektra completists or a cult or - to dredge up the period expression
- an underground hero.
Edsel ED 277 (UK)
Enigma/Retro/DiscReet 7 73508-2 (US)
At The Fool, Edsel ED 294 (UK)
Enigma/Retro/DiscReet 7 73509-2 (US)
commercial success eluded him and many of his albums consequently slipped out
of the catalogue and became collectors' items. Speaking personally, Buckley's
best work moved me on a scale only a notch beneath Van Morrison's. Both freely
used jazz, R'n'B, blues, folk and pop styles, but Morrison's somehow had the edge.
Paradoxically, Buckley was regularly classed as a folkie along with David Blue,
Judy Collins, Fred Neil, Tom Rush and that whole clique of Elektra label mates.
Sefronia was a departure from his earlier albums. Jazzier, more expansive
in its use of color instruments, it also saw him release several cover versions.
Fred Neil's Dolphins remains a classic of taut, barely suppressed energy,
one which still sends my fingernails deep into the palms of my hands.
orchestrated arrangement of Tom Waits' sentimental Martha (from Waits'
Closing Time) now sounds like a hybrid of Elton John and the Pogues; if
the latter connection sounds stretched, put it down solely to an imagined melodic
link between its refrain and that of Pair of Brown Eyes. Of the two albums,
it is the worthier and more cohesive in my opinion, but then, it seems to me like
forever and a day since his withering reading of Dolphins first moved me.
At The Fool, however, never moved me to anything like the same extent. I have
only to listen to the shuck and jive of Freeway Blues, an unmemorable ramble
like Mexicali Voodoo or Tijuana Moon, a classic case of a riff in
search of a resolution, to remind myself why the album failed to engage me then
and why it still has that effect. Time has not rounded its corners or made it
any the more acceptable. Time has not weakened my resolve in the case of Look
At The Fool.
work may now be properly reevaluated. In the USA Elektra has made available Goodbye
and Hello and Happy Sad on CD, while Enigma has put out Blue Afternoon
(a jewel, a jewel), Starsailor, Greetings From L.A., Sefronia, and Look
At The Fool and has taken the time to research lyric sheets.
bespeaks a wholly laudable commitment to their release program. In Britain getting
information from Demon is about as much fun as sucking venom from a snakebite.
is a full-time freelance writer, broadcaster and translator in the UK, specializing
in Indo-Pakistani music.