Friday, 13 June 2014

"Tim Buckley" by TIM BUCKLEY – A Review Of His 1966 Debut Album (Mono and Stereo) – Now Reissued, Expanded And Remastered Onto 2CDs By Rhino Handmade In 2010…

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There are those who call Tim Buckley's music 'magical' whilst others dismiss his Jazz style arrangements and vocal gymnastics as 'grating' or even 'nonsense'. I'm firmly in the first category (he was a bona-fide genius and true innovator). And despite its reputation as a good 'beginning' or lesser work (even amongst rabid fans) - I'd argue that there's genuine beauty to be rediscovered on his 1966 self-titled debut album "Tim Buckley" - reissued here in grand style and with great respect by Rhino Handmade of the USA. Here are the aural highs and lows...

USA released October 2011 (November in the UK) - "Tim Buckley" by TIM BUCKLEY on Rhino Handmade/Elektra RHM2 526087 is an 'Expanded 2CD Deluxe Edition' and plays out as follows:

Disc 1 (69:37 minutes):
1. I Can’t See You
2. Wings
3. Song Of The Magician
4. Strange Street Affair Under Blue
5. Valentine Melody
6. Aren’t You The Girl
7. Song Slowly Sung
8. It Happens Every Time
9. Song For Jainie
10. Grief In My Soul
11. She Is
12. Understand Your Man
Tracks 1 to 12 are the STEREO version of his debut album "Tim Buckley" - released October 1966 in the USA on Elektra Records EKS-74040.
Tracks 13 to 24 are the MONO Mix on Elektra Records EK-4040

Disc 2 is PREVIOUSLY UNRELEASED (53:01 minutes):
1. Put You Down
2. It Happens Every Time
3. Let Me Love You
4. I’ve Played That Game Before
5. She Is
6. Here I Am
7. Don’t Look Back
8. Call Me If You Do
9. You Today
10. No More
11. Won’t You Please Be My Woman
12. Come On Over
Tracks 1 to 12 are by THE BOHEMIANS (his first group) and are Demos recorded 8 November 1965 in Anaheim, California. The line up was: TIM BUCKLEY - Vocal and Rhythm Guitar, JIM FELDER - Bass, LARRY BECKET - Drums and BRIAN HARTZLER - Guitar.
13. She Is
14. Aren’t You The Girl
15. Found At The Scene Of A Rendezvous That Failed
16. Wings
17. My Love Is For You
18. Song Slowly Song
19. Song Introductions by Larry Beckett
20. I Can’t See You
21. Birth Day
22. Long Tide
Tracks 13 to 22 are ACOUSTIC DEMOS recorded during the summer of 1966 in Anaheim, California with Buckley on Vocals and Guitar. Larry Beckett provides Lead Vocals on two songs - "Found At The Scene Of A Rendezvous That Failed" and "Birth Day" while providing the Intro to "Song Slowly Song" (all other vocals Buckley).

The presentation is lovely. An over-sized outer card wrap (rustic cardboard effect) is held in place by a ribbon on the rear. Opening the three-way fold out card sleeve gives you a 5" card repro of the album artwork on the left with a mock-up Elektra Records "Previously Unreleased' sleeve in the centre and on the left - a 20-page oversized booklet with superbly informational liner notes by American Writer THANE TIERNEY (with the overall project handled by Mason Williams). But the big news for fans is the gorgeous sound and the new extras.

Remastered from original tapes by original Engineer BRUCE BOTNICK - both mixes of the album reveal lovely detail. There's hiss for sure but it's natural - Botnick has allowed the recordings to breath and the feeling of intimacy is so pronounced as to make you double take (no compression nor loudness). I also couldn't believe how good the straight-out-of-your-speakers Mono mix sounds - so punchy and full of power. "Strange Street Affair Under Blue" sounds so Doors in Mono - while the ethereal and trippy "Song Of The Magician" and "Song Slowly Song" both 'feel' better in Stereo.

After cutting his chops on stage - Tim Buckley was only 18 when he was contracted to Elektra Records (allegedly the same day they signed The Doors). The Doors connection continued by having Paul Rothchild and Bruce Botnick as Producer and Engineer respectively. Tracks like the jaunty "Song For Janie" and "I Can't See You" show a level of songwriting maturity that is spine tingling. The guitar phrases in "I Can't See You" even sound a little like Jeff Buckley's "Grace". But it's the pretty tunes like "Valentine Melody" and "Song Slowly Song" that move you - where his amazing octave range is given flight. The lovely "Wings" also benefits from the string-arrangements of JACK NITZSCHE while "Aren't You The Girl" has VAN DYKE PARKS on various keyboard instruments.

The liner notes explain that the Demos on CD2 are just that - crudely cut demos (courtesy of The Bohemians). There are wobbles, dips and instruments buried way back in the mix of the November 1965 session - but historically it's extraordinary stuff to be hearing after all these decades. "I've Played That Game Before" is new but far prettier is "Here I Am". Thankfully the second batch of personal demos features a far warmer recording and therefore ups the intimacy. Over and over - his voice strikes you. "My Love Is For You" is ok - "Birth Day" is awful and "Long Time" is nice.

So there you have it - gorgeous remasters of the original album - with both mixes warranting inclusion - and some nice new songs on CD2.

He would go on to greatness with "Happy Sad" and especially "Blue Afternoon" followed by a cool and desirable "Starsailor". And on 17 Nov 1966 - Tim and his wife Mary would bring a son into the world called Jeffrey Scott Buckley who would also go on to musical greatness and life sadness. But this is where the Buckley legend begins.

My only wish is that Rhino Handmade makes good on the rumour that "Happy Sad" and "Blue Afternoon" will both follow in this lavish series. What a thought...

1 comment:

templeofthetongue said...

Hey Mark,

Thanks for the kind words on my liner notes. I loved Tim's work, and I, too, wish that Rhino had continued with the series. C'est la vie. I'm grateful I had a chance to honour his memory in some small way on this set, a belated thank you to an artist who changed many of our lives and whose influence is still being felt decades after his untimely death.

Thane Tierney
Los Angeles, CA

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