Making Of 'Tim Buckley'
expanded reissue of his first album sheds
new light on one of the great voices of folk-rock.
he was only 19-years-old when it was released in October 1966,
Buckleys self-titled debut album was an astonishingly
mature maiden effort for a singer-songwriter yet to leave
writing on his own or with close friend Larry Beckett, Buckleys
compositions were haunting, poetic pieces suffused with both
romanticism and melancholy philosophical musings. The unusual,
angular folk-rock melodies were graced with Tims magnificent,
at times operatic tenor voice, as well as lush baroque-folk
production, including some soaring string arrangements by
assured was the record, and so young was the artist, that
one could be forgiven for assuming that Buckley used up most
or all of the original material available when he entered
comes as a pleasant shock, then, to find that the second disc
of Rhinos new two-CD deluxe reissue of Tim Buckley
contains no less than 21 previously unreleased tracks
predating the sessions for the LP. Of the twelve recorded
on November 8, 1965 as part of The Bohemians, Buckleys
pre-solo rock band, only two were redone for the album; the
other ten, in fact, never appeared on any of his other records,
whether issued in his lifetime or afterward.
revelatory are nine acoustic bedroom demos recorded in mid-1966,
just before the sessions for Tim Buckley, including not just
five of the tunes that showed up on the LP, but four others
that make their first appearance here.
with the first disc, which contains the official Tim Buckley
album in both stereo and mono, it comprises a major addition
to the Buckley canon that sheds unexpected light on his early
evolution. With Buckley as singer and rhythm guitarist, The
Bohemians had been together for only six months or so when
they entered a piano showroom in a mall in Anaheim, about
40 miles south of Los Angeles, to record a dozen demos in
drums was Larry Beckett; on guitar, Brian Hartzler; and on
bass Jim Fielder, whod soon go on to short stints in
the Mothers Of Invention and Buffalo Springfield, before landing
a long-term spot in Blood, Sweat & Tears.
was in a separate room from the showroom, but it wasnt
sound-proofed or anything like that, remembers Fielder
today. There was no control booth as such, just a reel-to-reel
tape recorder and two microphones, one in the left channel,
one in the right. Everything was live.
vocal mike was closer to Tims mouth; the other just
kind of picked up ambient room sound. It was pretty much one,
maybe two takes on each of these tunes. At that point, wed
played each of those a few times, but we were still kind of
feeling our way through them.
these basic conditions, The Bohemians bashed out a dozen originals.
Only two (She Is and It Happens Every Time)
would later be re-jigged for Tim Buckley. A half-dozen
were Buckley/Beckett collaborations, Buckley writing five
others on his own, and Fielder contributing the rudimentary
Dont Look Back the only song he wrote
for The Bohemians and, surprisingly, one of only two songs
hes ever written to completion.
also surprising to hear Tims familiar gorgeous voice
singing numbers that are, by and large, bluesier and harder-rocking
than the folk-rock in which hed specialize on his first
were trying to be a Top 40 band in order to get jobs at high
school dances. Though we would salt them in with Highway
61 Revisited, which I would sing on account of me being
the only one who could remember all the words! laughs
Beckett, today a poet in Portland, Oregon.
We had all kinds of cover songs to get our foot in the door,
and then we would kind of play it by ear, or Tim would, and
try to gauge the audience and see if we could sneak some originals
in there, which we would invariably do.
how did those Orange County teens react to those originals,
which by the standards of garage bands were pretty unusual?
were pretty indifferent, I would say, Beckett shrugs.
It was the wrong audience, but we didnt care.
We really liked our stuff.
would also sneak some highly unconventional cover tunes into
the mix, like Bob Dylans then-unreleased Quit Your
Low Down Ways:
learned] that song out of Sing Out magazine, where
Dylan regularly got published, reveals Beckett.
It wasnt on any record, so he invented this fiery rocknroll
arrangement. He used to just absolutely scream that song.
It was pretty great. Too bad it didnt make it to the
demos, but we were trying to highlight our originals.
originals, if more derivative for the most part than even
Buckleys earliest Elektra work, feature some down-and-dirty
on Put You Down; almost jazzy moodiness, yet married
to raw rave-up British Invasion sounds, on Let Me Love
You; and almost punky blues-rock on Come On Over.
are also unexpected echoes of the early Beatles at their most
country-influenced on Ive Played That Game Before
and Wont You Please Be My Woman. As Beckett
admits, We were listening to Beatles 65
(Capitols rough US equivalent of Beatles For Sale)
there are also ventures into the more fragile, lilting romantic
folk-rock ballads that would ultimately prove to be the early
Buckleys strong suit. Call Me If You Do (the
first Beckett/Buckley collaboration, and Fielders favorite
of the dozen tracks) and Here I Am certainly fit that
bill admirably, though its the Beckett/Buckley composition
She Is thats both the strongest of these demos and
the truest indication of Tims future direction.
I wrote that, and then Tim wrote the music, we looked at each
other going, Whoa, says Larry, who cites
She Is as one of their first arty songs.
You mean, we can do this? OK, thats a path! We
have to follow up on this. We both clearly saw it as a direction
to pursue. Thats a kind of wisdom, just to understand
what was good about their own stuff.
as Beckett emphasizes, the tape is a nice balanced selection
of the lyrical and the rocknroll sides of The
Bohemians. I really enjoy the wild variety of music. And this
is only really a small range of the different musics that
Wont You Please Be My Woman, you hear Tim rocking
out pretty hard, grinding his voice and really going for it.
He just kind of dropped that side of himself. But it was there
all along, like a Little Richard-derived sound. I have no idea
where Tim learned to sing like that, but one day, he said, Hey,
listen to this. He rocked out, and I went, Wow!
shouldnt have been surprised, cause he was such
a great singer, but for this person with a golden tenor voice
to suddenly be rocking out was amazing. I loved that music
with a passion, so I would always wait for when we would do
Wont You Please Be My Woman at a gig. In a way,
we kind of drifted into that folk-rock sound, the She Is
kind of thing.
the end of the day, then, The Bohemians had an albums
worth of demos, abeit in a rough form that couldnt have
been released as a commercial LP in late 1965. So what was
the next step? As far as why we did it, I dont
think we knew! laughs Fielder. It was pretty much
an off-the-cuff session. Its sort of: we were a band,
and thats what a band did. Where the demo really made
a difference is when we went to Herb Cohen.