The Tim Buckley Archives

Album Reviews

Volume 3, Issue 1 - March, 2011

Tim Buckley: Tim Buckley - Deluxe Edition

By Jeanette Leech

Tim Buckley’s debut is very satisfying for me to review.

Buckley is responsible for two of my all-time favourite albums (Lorca and Starsailor), and when I first heard Tim Buckley – after falling in love with these later experiments – it sounded hemmed in, naïve, safe. My inclination was not to take the album on its own terms, but to search for the future, to jump on every unusual whoop of his voice, before slumping back in disappointment that each song seemed to play out conventionally, in line with any number of singer-songwriters in the mid to late ’60s.

I curse myself for my short-sightedness; but thanks to this glorious reissue, I’m catching up on lost time. Over the album’s original twelve tracks, here presented in both mono and stereo, Buckley has a wide-eyed, absorbing charm that he never recaptured. It’s apparent in his voice and guitar but, even more than that, in something he was soon to disown – his natural flair for melody.

Beginning with ‘I Can’t See You’, folk-rock is the strongest stylistic blueprint, but that’s always combined with other influences. ‘Strange Street Affair Under Blue’ is an episodic, baroque piece, its modernist ambition condensed into three eccentric minutes. There’s also an old-fashioned air on the album, of almost show-ballad cleanness: with a different arrangement and a bit of imagination, Bing Crosby could have sung ‘It Happens Every Time’.
And then there’s the voice. No, it hasn’t yet scratched at every extreme, but the many octaves do a sterling job of tempering Tim Buckley’s prime weakness – the lyrics. Buckley has a tendency to trite literalness on this album, but his tenor is of such power that each word feels saturated with heartfelt emotional candour, and allows you to excuse his clichÈ, redefining it as adolescent simplicity.

The second disc in this package comprises 22 fascinating demos. There’s an amazing version of ‘Aren’t You The Girl’ with Tim, at points unable to contain his giggles, confidently developing the budding microdrama of the song.

This sensitive, complete reissue showcases the beginnings of Buckley, and it does his nascent genius glorious justice.

© 2011 Jeanette Leech/

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