The Tim Buckley Archives


American Troubadours
Goundbreaking singer songwriters of the 60s

by Mark Brend

Having baffled audiences with his peculiar journey from folk-rock to the avant-garde, Buckley again confounded expectations again when he returned to music with a new album some eighteen months after the release of Starsailor. Greetings from LA was released on Warners in1972 and is a carnal, physical R&B album with all the stylistic badges of that genre: horn sections; female backing vocalists; funky Fenders; and songs about sex.

Jerry Goldstein was the producer and was best known for his work with War. Made at Far Out Studios in Hollywood, Greetings from LA did something to restore Buckley’s commercial fortunes after the audience-alienating Starsailor.

Although Larry Beckett again co-wrote some of the selections, Buckley was working now with a largely new set of collaborators. Central to this group of musicians was guitarist Joe Falsia, who became a mainstay of Buckley’s touring band and percussionist Carter CC Collins again makes an appearance.

Greetings from LA marks the beginning of the third distinct phase of Buckley’s career. Surprisingly for an artist who had carved out such a distinctive identity on his four previous albums, he was now turning his attentions to an established form,

Nonetheless, he had not abandoned experimental inclinations entirely; the vocal explorations on the “speaking in tongues” sections of Get On Top and Devil Eyes were as extreme as anything on Starsailor.

As well as marking a musical departure, Greetings from LA was a lyrical reinvention. The yearning, mystical, sometimes obscure inner analysis of the earlier records gave way to a libidinous lecherous euphoric celebration of the flesh. Nobody familiar with either of Buckley’s two previous artistic phases expected to hear him singing, “We had those bedsprings squeaking all night long”

When touring the UK two years after the release of Greetings, Buckley talked about the move (some would say retreat) into a safe space after the uncomfortable extremes of Starsailor. “ I thought I was writing my ass of (during the Lorca/Starsailor period) but record sales proved differently, :” he said, adding to another interviewer” I hadn’t touched the guitar in a long time and I though well I have to get up to date. I saw nine black exploitation movies, read four black ‘sock-it-tome” books and read all the rock criticisms…and finally realized that all of the sex idols weren’t saying anything sexy...”

'American Troubadours' features biographies, critical analysis, and discographies of nine singer-songwriter pioneers. Overshadowed by stars like Bob Dylan, hundreds of talented singer-songwriters emerged in the 1960s. Drawing on folk, blues and country roots, a love of rock 'n' roll and a growing pop sensibility, these artists created such songs as 'Everybody's Talkin'' and 'Hey Joe'.'

'American Troubadours' explores the lives and songs of David Ackles, David Blue, Tim Buckley, Tim Hardin, Fred Neil, Phil Ochs, Tom Rapp, Tim Rose, and Tom Rush.

London-based aAuthor Mark Brend has written several books on American music and has contributed to Record Collector and other music magazines.

© US Publisher: Backbeat Books; Illustrated edition edition (March 2001)
Used with permission

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