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The Making Of 'Tim Buckley' - Part Three


The actual Tim Buckley album attests to just how rapidly the singer-songwriter was developing, both in terms of his songs and their settings. Feels Beckett: “You go into the studio for Tim Buckley, and you have a very artistic approach. I think the primary difference is the focus on Tim’s guitar. He was always experimenting with chord positions and arpeggios of different, strange varieties and deeply involved in arranging and rearranging, as well as composing – trying to figure out the most beautiful way to embody that, while playing guitar, either six- or twelve-string. Like the flatted fifth on I Can’t See, it starts right there. If you listen carefully all the way through, his playing is really pushed to the fore. Tim’s guitar, all of a sudden, is now fore-grounded.”

In addition to attending and giving input during all of the sessions, Larry also wrote a “vast prose poem” for the sleevenotes that went unused, though a shorter Beckett poem, 1, 2, 3 (written to Tim), appears in the deluxe edition’s booklet.

“It shows you how quickly growth and change impacted upon Tim in those days,” says Fielder of the debut LP. “You’re talking about a span of less than a year between when the demo was made and when we finally get into recording Tim’s first album. Tim and Larry had just never stopped writing, and everything they did, they got more experience, and were better educated. Everything they did was better than what had come before.

“The only thing that surprises me about that first album of Tim’s is that it didn’t sell very well. My wife thought that it was too smart for the audience at the time. It kind of points to the potential that people like Jac Holzman saw in Tim. Here was someone who was always going to be coming up with new and probably better things, and it just kind of bore that out.”

“It’s almost unfair to compare the demo with Tim’s first album, because the demo was basically made under difficult conditions; someone turned on a mike, and we started playing and singing. As compared to an album that’s made with Paul Rothchild [who co-produced the LP with Jac Holzman] and [engineer] Bruce Botnick at the controls, in a fully first-class [Los Angeles] studio like Sunset Sound.”

In Jim’s estimation, lead guitarist Lee Underwood, who’d play on numerous Buckley albums throughout Tim’s career, “was probably the best musical influence in those sessions. Everyone kind of based what they were doing around what he was doing. Every now and then, Paul or Bruce would have a comment about something the drums or guitar were doing, saying, ‘maybe this could be a little different here‘. But, basically, it was Lee who kind of led the way as far as those arrangements go.”

Listening to Disc One of the new deluxe edition, Fielder related that, “To my surprise, I preferred the mono mix on every track but She Is. Stereo was, at that time, a very new game and few kids could afford the equipment. The mono mix back then, for pop music, was the standard, and most engineers used stereo pretty fundamentally, as on this album: the guitars on the right, the bass and drums on the left, and the vocal, strings, and solos in the middle.

“The mono mix is the one that sounds more like what you would hear in a concert hall: everything coming from a single source. Tim was a ferocious stage presence, and the best way to hear him was as if in live concert.”

More Buckley reissues are in the pipeline, with bonus material under consideration for Goodbye & Hello’s deluxe edition including a half dozen acoustic demos (among them the never-to-appear-on-record Sixface) recorded in producer Jerry Yester’s living room; an acetate of different demos for the same LP, including several songs that would be re-recorded for the album, and some that wouldn’t make it onto the record; the unissued single Once Upon A Time/Lady Give Me Your Key (whose A-side was recently released on the Where The Action Is: Los Angeles Nuggets box set); and studio session tapes of a few songs.

That’s not even counting another demo tape Beckett recalls from around 1966 that hasn’t been found, where Herb Cohen had, “Fielder, Buckley, and I go into a studio and record everything we’d written as a safety. It was a good acoustic performance, and had scads of material that has never appeared anywhere else.”

Could there be even more in the vaults – more unearthed live performances, such as the March 1967 gig issued in 2009 on Live At The Folklore Center? Don’t discount the possibility. For as Larry Beckett told me when I first interviewed him more than ten years ago, “Tim was ready to put out a five-album set. He loved so many kinds of music, and was so accomplished at performing them all, that limiting him to two sides of an LP was almost ridiculous.”




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