At The Troubadour 1969
R2 71663 (CD only).
Herb Cohen, prod.; Wally Heider, eng.
15 years after Tim Buckleys death in 1975 at the age
of 28, silence. Then
three new albums in as many years: the remarkable two-hour
Dream Letter, the just-as-remarkable The Peel Sessions
EP, and now the 78-minute Live at the Troubadour 1969.
is a rambling set of Buckleys uniquely shamanic folk-funk
with his usual bandguitarist Lee Underwood, bassist
John Balkan, Carter C.C. Collins on congas, and drummer Art
Trip (vibist David Friedman is conspicuous by his absence).
But compared to the aching intimacy of Dream Letter and
The Peel Sessions almost chamber-music delicacy,
Troubadour isnt much more than a loose jam. Still,
Buckley stretches out on long, bluesy versions of songs from
his middle period, including tunes from Happy Sad, Blue
Afternoon, and especially from Lorca.
Buckley could do almost anything vocally. He proves it here
with gentle crooning, pagan groans, shouts, yips, and a high
gobbling yodel that sends chills up the spine. But while Troubadour
contains what is probably Buckleys most abandoned singing
on record, when I hear his virtuoso wailing at the end of
Gypsy Woman, all I hear is a singer impressing
the hell out of himself at the expense of song, audience,
and, ultimately, music. Self-expressive? You bet. Art? I dont
also contains the previously unrecorded Venice Mating
Calla throwaway instrumental that nonetheless
proved that the musically omnivorous Buckley had heard Miles
Daviss In A Silent Wayand I Dont
Need It to Rain, a nondescript romantic rant. Still,
Im grateful for Troubadour: The live versions of such
nightclub ballads of terminal loss as Blue Melody
and Chase the Blues Away are full of
the ache past passion, and these live versions of three of
Lorcas five songsan album Id always
dismissed as way beneath Buckleys usual standardfinally
make sense of that difficult material. Now I know what Buckley
was trying to do with I Had a Talk With My Woman,
Nobody Walkin, and Driftin.
His falsetto humming on Driftin ends
all too soon.
rhythm section was having the Off Night From Hell (check out
the lamest-of-lame percussion breaks from Collins and Trip),
and Buckleys guitar is consistently out of tune. The
recorded sound starts off boxy, but improves considerably
over the first few tracks, despite occasional distortion,
as original engineer Wally Heider settled in at the board.
fans will have to have Troubadour, of course; the rest
of you should pick up Dream Letter.
Published in Stereophile, March 1994, Vol.17 No.6
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Estate wishes to thank Richard Lehnert for providing all the
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