Tim Buckley's sixth (and best) album
by Mick MacVe
At little more than 35 minutes long, Tim Buckley's sixth album
marked a significant change of direction. The menacing guitar
and seemingly free-form melody of the opening track Come
Here Woman gives an indication of the treats in store
for the careful listener.
always with a Tim Buckley album, listen to the voice dripping
with emotion and intensity. Listen in particular to the way
in which he sings
wheel waters set
Now my blood yearns
Your mouth opens woman after 3:00.
is raw naked emotion, guaranteed to invoke an passionate response
from an open mind. Of course, most people hated it when it
you make three albums of such stunning beauty as Happy/Sad,
Blue Afternoon and (to some extent) Lorca, your
audience has to be pretty open minded to accept such a dramatic
turnaround as Starsailor. For me it was easy - this
was the first Tim Buckley album I ever heard!
was only after loving this album that I progressed on to Goodbye
and Hello and only then on to the three albums already
mentioned! I Woke Up is very free form and unstructured
and Tim's voice is more mellow. This is a weird track (what
IS it about?) and doesn't really do it for me I'm afraid.
Monterey, the next track is absolutely riveting. More
structured musically with an exciting guitar riff by Lee Underwood
and dramatic drum fills by Maury Baker, Tim's voice soars,
glides, swoops and delivers.
have run with the damned my darling
They have taught me to lie
by a series of vocal tricks which are unparalleled and always
define to me what it is that makes music worth listening to.
it's Moulin Rouge which I hate because it's straight
and predictable. The last track on side one is Song To
The Siren and everybody must know this. Of course, there's
a certain type of person who will prefer the version by This
O.K. it's their prerogative, and I love Liz Fraser's voice,
but please! Have these people actually listened to Tim singing
this song? Have they listened? How can I, by use of the written
word, hope to convey the intensity of this vocal performance?
I can't. It's just stunning. As always, it's not just the
range of his voice; it's not just the emotional intensity;
it's the combination.
record had a horrible scratch at the end of this track which
always spoilt the silence. Now I've got the CD and there's
no time to reflect when the track ends - it's straight into
people I play this to, take it personally and quickly
leave. But I love it. Buy it now before it's too late..."
Side One of the record was a mixture of different styles,
Side Two is like one continuous piece. Jungle Fire starts
with the free-form vocal style of the first two tracks, but
were an island behind the sun
Yes an island where my love could live and life breathes
From deep inside
insurgent guitar riff pushes the track into another dimension.
As Tim sings "I love you like a jungle fire" what
appears to be a peculiar string instrument, or maybe a moog
synthesizer provides more tension in the background. Repeated
listening to this instrument indicates that this is really
a foretaste of the next track, the title track, because this
peculiar instrument is in fact Tim.
the track, is definitely unlike any track you will ever have
heard in your life. It's only Tim singing, but Tim singing
in sixteen different voices all assaulting you at once with
a piece of intense beauty. There are no musical instruments,
but I never realised this until I read about it, because the
mood is dark, mysterious, swirling and dangerous.
I know that looks pretentious, but I can't describe it. To
me this is a dangerous trip through dark, dank caverns with
a surprise around every corner. Tim describes it best...
carries me on his shoulder
Beyond the suns I speak and circuits shiver.
an interview he said "I was as close to Coltrane as anyone
Well, I tried listening to some Coltrane after that and although
I appreciate that Coltrane was able to make a musical instrument
sing, I never responded as emotionally as I do to this album.
The Healing Festival is next and is rhythmic, yet free
form, for ninety seconds before Bunk Gardner plays the most
outrageous sax solo you will ever hear; he plays like Tim
sings - an immense range of notes and emotion. And listen
carefully to that backing instrument again.
Lastly, the best thing Tim ever did: Down By The Borderline.
This song has everything. It opens with a trumpet solo from
Buzz Gardner, then moves into another free form riff with
the best vocals Tim ever gave.
deep in the mix is a fantastic guitar solo from Lee Underwood.
Aficionados of Happy/Sad won't agree, I know and that's
their right too, but listen to the timbre of Tim's voice (sorry);
listen to the intonation; listen to the inflection; listen
to the resonance.
can't write about this song with any sense - it just is the
most exciting thing I own. Of course the album bombed, and
Tim didn't release another album for eighteen months, and
when he did it was nothing like this. Most people I play this
to, take it personally and quickly leave. But I love it. Buy
it now before it's too late.
absolutely criminal thing about this album is that it has
been long deleted on CD. Someone release it quickly!
2001 Mick MacVe