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Rare Tim Buckley Recordings Unearthed

By Michael D. Ayers - July 14, 2009

A rare performance from folk icon Tim Buckley will see the light later this summer, when the Tompkins Square label issues "Live at the Folklore Center, NYC – March 6, 1967" on August 25. The live recording adds to an assorted mix of posthumous releases from the Buckley camp that date back to 1990.

Fans will delight in this one, as it includes six new original Buckley compositions that have yet to appear on any prior release. The set was recorded by folk impresario Izzy Young at the Folklore Center, the Greenwich Village club that was a fertile ground for folk acts in the 1960's, including a young Bob Dylan.

"I didn't hear the tape for most of the time I've been in Sweden - at least 30 years," Young tells "When I played it for some close pals six months or so again, I just couldn't believe it, all that fresh energy, fresh thought." "Live at the Folklore Center" marks the earliest official release of any Buckley live album and also includes an interview Young conducted with Buckley in the liner notes.

Listeners will first notice the show's very intimate nature, as it's approximated that around 35 people were in attendance that night. "My sound man and I had an agreement, never more than 10% louder," Young explains. "Everyone had to listen and not just get big sounds thrown at them. And no playbacks are ever to be heard at my concerts."

While the sound of the tapes surely captures the emotive singer in a raw state, it's not to say some mastering wasn't done. Grammy-winning engineers Steve Rosenthal, Warren Russell-Smith and Jamie Howarth all worked on getting the sound up to par, while keeping the original running order of the show. The recording suffered from the usual suspects: hiss/tape noise, drop outs, hums, outside noises and a girl coughing," Russell-Smith says. "The tape noise, drop outs and hums were, at most times, easily rectified but I could never find that plug-in to remedy a cold. This particular recording suffered from them, and was in fact running fast. Jamie was able to obtain Tim's original pitch and corrected the two reels accordingly. This made for a much more satisfying listen."

While Buckley only lived to 28, his output was quite prolific in the short time he was performing and recording. Warren-Smith says listening to this show, Buckley's energy is quite apparent despite the small audience he was playing for. "I have worked on many live performances from yesteryear, but the thing that sticks out in my mind is the rawness of this performance," he says. "It's fast and furious, he doesn't dwell too much in between tracks and once he's into a song it's all emotion from there on in."

Here is the track list for "Live at the Folklore Center, NYC - March 6th, 1967":

"Song For Jainie"
"I Never Asked To Be Your Mountain"
"Phantasmagoria In Two"
"Just Please Leave Me" (Previously Unreleased)
"I Can't See You"
"Aren't You The Girl"
"What Do You Do (He Never Saw You)" (Previously Unreleased)
"No Man Can Find The War"
"Carnival Song"
"Cripples Cry" (Previously Unreleased)
"If The Rain Comes" (Previously Unreleased)
"Country Boy" (Previously Unreleased)
"I Can't Leave You Loving Me" (Previously Unreleased)

© 2009 Ayers/Billboard

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