The Tim Buckley Archives



Tim Buckley

Collectable American singer/songwriter whose
music incorporated rock, jazz and folk influences

by Brian Hogg

Bob Dylan's commercial and artistic successes inevitably provided an inspiration for many other performers. His immediate contemporaries, like Phil Ochs, Tom Paxton, Eric Andersen or Patrick Sky, followed a similar musical pattern and mixed political statements with a more personal style.

By the middle of the next decade, however, a newer generation of folksingers emerged who took their inspiration from Dylan's more recent batch of introspective songs. These included Tim Hardin, Leonard Cohen and Paul Simon, as well as a very young Tim Buckley. During his brief career, Buckley produced a series of remarkable albums that are now much sought after by collectors.

Timothy Charles Buckley was born in Washington DC on February 14 1947, but his family moved out to California when he was still a child. As a teenager, he drifted in and around local music clubs while cementing a High School friendship with two other students, Larry Beckett and Jim Fielder.

The three formed the nucleus of a small group which held down a residency at the Hollywood club, It's Boss, with Fielder on bass, Buckley on vocals and guitar, Lee Underwood on lead and Carter C.C. Collins on drums. Beckett did not perform, but contributed the lyrics to Buckley's original songs.

The line-up was never a secure or permanent thing; Van Dyke Parks was also an occasional member, and Tim would also perform as a solo act.

Buckley worked on both the East and West Coasts, before he was spotted by Jimmy Carl Black, the drummer in the Mothers of Invention, who in turn recommended him to his manager, Herb Cohen. It was Cohen who took Buckley's demo to Elektra Records, who duly signed him up in 1966.

At that time, the label was moving away from its pure-folk image and into rock. Albums by Love and the Butterfield Blues Band had been cut, and Elektra had also signed up two of Tim's contemporaries, Jackson Browne and Steve Noonan. Together, the trio became known as "the Orange County Three", although they had not performed together as a group.

Sadly, Jackson's time at Elektra proved inconclusive and all of the work he did there was scrapped. Noonan did have one album released in 1968, but it was left to Buckley to record a significant body of work for the label.

Tim Buckley was released in October 1966, and featured several musicians he'd already been working with. Van Dyke Parks, Jim Fielder and Lee Underwood were all present, with Billy Mundi from the Mothers on drums. Jack Nitzsche was called in for the string arrangements, which, coupled with the singer's high tenor, gave off a rather precious minstrel atmosphere which was perfect for the times but now sounds somewhat dated.

Not that the LP is poor by any means: Strange Street Affair Under Blue, I Can't See You and especially Song Slowly Song show Buckley's talent already formed and it's only the strength of his later work that leaves this collection somewhat overshadowed.

Two singles were lifted from it: Aren't You The Girl was coupled with Strange Street Affair Under Blue, while Wings and I Can't See You were put together as late as 1968, a back catalogue practice occasionally used by U.K. Elektra.


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