Buckley, Tim


Band members                          Related acts

- Tim Buckley (RIP 1975) -- vocals, guitar (1966-75)

- James Fielder -- bass (1966-)

- Billy Mundi -- drums,  percussion (1966-)

- Van Dyke Parks -- keyboards (1966-)

- Lee Underwood -- lead guitar (1966-)

 

 

  support (1974)

- David Bluefield -- keyboards, clavinet

- Gary Coleman -- percussion

- Jesse Erlich -- cello

- Kind Errisson -- percussion

 Joe Falsia -- bass, guitar

- Jim Fiedler -- bass

- Tony Harrington -- sax, horns

- Jim Hughart -- bass

- Mike Melvoin -- keyboards, synthesizers

- Richard Nash -- horns

- Earl Palmer -- drums

- William Peterson -- horns

- Chuck Rainey -- bass

- John Roella -- horns

- Anthony Terran -- horns

- Mark Tiernan -- keyboards

- Lee Underwood -- guitar, keyboards


 

 Records)--harpsichord, piano, celeste

- Jeff Buckley (son) (RIP)

 

 

 


 

Genre: folk-rock

Rating: 3 stars ***

Title:  Tim Buckley

Company: Elektra

Catalog: EKS-74007

Year: 1966

Country/State: Washington, D.C.

Grade (cover/record): VG+ / VG+

Comments: minor ring wear

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 5037

Price: $30.00

 

A good looking musician who dies young (only 28) ...  Those ingredients seem to be enough to ensure that your memory is surrounded by a certain amount of hype.

 

Over the years I've made a real effort to become a believer, but the allure/mystery that surrounds Tim Buckley is simply lost on my simplistic ears.  Born in Washington, D.C. and raised in New York and then Anaheim, California, Buckley started his musical career playing in a number of local C&W bands, including The Bohemians, The Harlequin 3 and Princess Ramona & the Cherokee Riders.  The mid-1960s found him opting for a solo career as a folkie.  Performing on the L.A. Club circuit his good looks and talent started to generate local press.  Mothers of Invention drummer Jimmy Carl Black put Buckley in touch with Frank Zappa manager Herb Cohen.  Cohen financed some demos, one which was forwarded to Elektra Records President Jac Holzman.  Cohen also arranged for a New York showcase performance that  Holzman attended.

 

Signed to Elektra, 1966's cleverly titled "Tim Buckley" was recorded in L.A. with Holzman and Paul Rothchild co-producing.  Only 19 at the time, Buckley arranged all of the material and wrote, or co-wrote all twelve songs (about half with former California band mate/buddy Larry Beckett).  While much of the material reflected Buckley's folk roots, elsewhere he deserved considerable recognition for being willing to experiment, going far beyond standard folk.  How many folkies would dare to record something as hard rockin' as 'Understand Your Man'?  With support from bassist James Fielder (also a former California band mate), drummer Billy Mundi and guitarist Lee Underwood, the album included plenty of then-daring electric guitar (the nice jangle rocker 'Aren't You the Girl' and the should've-been-a-hit 'It Happens Every Time'), some modest psych moves ('Song of the Magician' and 'Song Slowly Song') and even a couple of songs with an Indian raga influence ('She Is').  On the other hand, while critics praised his tenor voice, I'll tell you I find it kind of shrieky and spread over an album it tends to become pretty annoying.  Buckley certainly wasn't the year's strongest singer and on a couple of tracks Jack Nitzsche's pseudo-classical string arrangements threatened to swamp him.  The same criticisms were true for many of the lyrics.  Overly romantic, outright wimpy and occasionally quite clumsy ('Song for Janie'), it's easy to see the appeal to thousands of young high school and college aged women.  On the other hand, garage rock this ain't ...  Elsewhere Elektra tapped the album for one quickly forgotten single:

 

- 1966's 'Wings' b/w 'Grief In My Soul (Elektra catalog number 45606)

 

"Tim Buckley" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) I Can't See You   (Larry Beckett - Tim Buckley) - 2:40

2.) Wings   (Tim Buckley) - 2:30

3.) Song of the Magician   (Larry Beckett - Tim Buckley) - 3:05

4.) Strange Street Affair Under Blue   (Larry Beckett - Tim Buckley) - 3:10

5.) Valentine Melody   (Larry Beckett - Tim Buckley) - 3:40

6.) Aren't You the Girl   (Tim Buckley) - 2:01

(side 2)
1.) Song Slowly Song   (Larry Beckett - Tim Buckley) - 4:13

2.) It Happens Every Time   (Tim Buckley) - 1:49

3.) Song for Janie   (Tim Buckley) - 2:43

4.) Grief In My Soul   (Larry Beckett - Tim Buckley) - 2:03

5.) She Is   (Larry Beckett - Tim Buckley) - 3:05

6.) Understand Your Man   (Tim Buckley) - 3:06

 



 


Genre: folk-rock

Rating: 4 stars ****

Title:  Look At the Fool

Company: Discreet

Catalog: DS-2001

Year: 1974

Country/State: Washington, D.C.

Grade (cover/record): VG / VG+

Comments: cut lower right corner

Available: 1

Catalog ID: 6285

Price: $20.00

 

I'm no Tim Buckley historian, but by 1974 both his personal and professional lives were pretty much in disrepair so you could understand the sense of personal and musical desperation that permeated 1974's "Look At the Fool".  Having endured a string of poorly selling albums that were widely slammed by critics, he'd been dropped by a sting of labels (Frank Zappa's Discreet imprint signed him for this outting). He was virtually penniless and rapidly running out of career options. Against that backdrop Buckley released  "Look At the Fool" (the album's original working title was "Tijuana Moon" but Warner Brother executives apparently had an issue with it),.  I have to say it's one of the most enigmatic albums I've ever heard.  While Buckley never had rock's greatest voice, there was always something charming hearing him trying to make the most of his limitations and plunge headlong and with full abandonment into different genres.  It certainly drove his record labels crazy and left legions of fans wondering what he was thinking, but it was always interesting.   And then along comes this album where on large chunks of the set you were left to wonder what Buckley was trying to do ...  Unlike anything else in his catalog, Buckley was clearly flaying around looking for a genre or style that could re-establish at least some of his commercial viability while leaving the flexibility to wrap his highly personal and seemingly sex crazed lyrics in the results ('Who Could Deny You').  This time out the jazzy moves and outright experimentation were long gone with the predominant sound being strange mix of blue-eyed soul, quasi-funk (yeah, as in George Clinton), and Latin influences (lots of nods to Mexico throughout the set).  One of the strange byproducts was that at times Buckley literally sounded like he was trying to channel Elmer Fudd.  The results were occasionally quite strange, but it was also intriguing - kind of like trying to take your eyes off of a horrific traffic accident.  You're hoping that nobody was seriously hurt, but there's something about the carnage that you can't take your eyes off of ...   And to give credit where due, 'Wanda Lu' made it clear that Buckley could convincingly handle a garage rocker.

 

- Musically 'Look at the Fool' was an intriguing mid-tempo rocker that served as the perfect example of Buckley's strange vocal acrobatics.  While it was hard to accurate describe the weird performance, to my ears his nasally and shrill delivery sounded a bit like he was trying to disgorge a chicken bone from his throat, or had been sucking on a lemon for a week.  Strange way to open the album, but I actually kind of enjoyed it ...   rating: *** stars

- Tim Buckley gets funky ...  well believe it or not, that was exactly what you got on 'Bring It On Up'.  Once you got over the initial shock, the results weren't half bad as you would have thought, though the backing singers threatened to blow him out of the water.     rating: *** stars

- A weird hybrid of blue-eyed soul, funk and jazzy moves, 'Helpless' was another song that made you scratch your head in puzzlement.   Maybe because it was such a creative hodgepodge, it's always been a song I've enjoyed (and there was a tasty fuzz guitar solo to boot ...)   rating: **** stars

- With Buckley doing his best Dr. John-meets-Elmer Fudd  impersonation, 'Freeway Blues' was actually funny for showing how unfunky an ex-folkie could really be.  Bad idea with even worse execution.   rating: ** stars

- It took a little effort to get accustomed to the falsetto, but once it got going 'Tijuana Moon' was one of side one's better performances.  Yeah, the arrangement was cluttered and would have benefited from a more streamlined approach, but Buckley actually displayed some energy and enthusiasm on this one, though the backing singers did blow him away this time out . Shame the song was so short.   rating: **** stars

- Side two started out with Buckley taking a stab at David Clayton-Thomas ...  A surprisingly enjoyable slice of blues-rock, its doubtful you'd ever have guessed this was Buckley and though the genre may have seemed an odd choice for Buckley, he turned in a great performance.  Nice lead guitar from Lee Underwood.   Wonder how much influence former BS&T bassist Jim Fiedler had on this piece ?   rating: **** stars

- 'Who Could Deny You' may have been one of the most pop-oriented and radio friendly songs Buckley ever wrote.  Very different and surprisingly enjoyable ...  rating: *** stars

- Built on a great little guitar riff and some great soulful horns that kicked the song along in the acceleration lane, 'Who Could Deny You' was one of the standout performances - swinging and sultry with Buckley actually sounding like he was enjoying himself for a change.  Would have sounded fantastic on FM radio.    rating: **** stars

- Hum, opening up with a BS&T-styled horn arrangement, 'Down in the Street' found Buckley returning to his David Thomas-Clayton impression.  This time around the results were even better thanks in large measure to the song's rocking melody.   (In case anyone cared, the back cover track listing managed to get the song order wrong, showing this as the last song.)   rating: *** stars

- For anyone who doubted Buckley could actually handle an outright rocker, then I offer 'Wanda Lu'.   Yeah, the lyrics were outright sexist, but this was the kind of rollicking garage rock that made stars out of folks like Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs ... I can hear long standing fans complaining, but this is simply one of my favorite Buckley performances.  Nice to hear him simply cut lose for once ....  Shame Discreet tapped it as a single, but didn't make an effort to actually market the song.  rating: ***** stars

   

Discreet tapped the album for a promo single (never seen a stock copy), in the form of:

 

 

 

- 'Wanda Lu' b/w 'Wanda Lu' (Discreet catalog number DSS 1311)

 

If you love his early stuff chances are this one will be difficult to swallow.  On the other hand, if his early work struck you as pretentious and overblown, or if your expectations were limited and you could deal with the occasionally weird vocal stylings, this might prove a mildly enjoyable surprise.   It was for me.

 

"Look at the Fool" track listing:
(side 1)

1.) Look at the Fool   (Tim Buckley) - 5:13
2.) Bring It On Up   (Tim Buckley) - 3:27
3.) Helpless   (Tim Buckley) - 3:20
4.) Freeway Blues   (Tim Buckley - Larry Beckett) - 3:12
5.) Tijuana Moon
    (Tim Buckley - Larry Beckett) - 2:41

(side 2)
1.) Ain't it Peculiar   (Tim Buckley) - 3:36
2.) Who Could Deny You
   (Tim Buckley) - 4:23
3.) Mexicali Voodoo
   (Tim Buckley) - 2:25
4.) Down in the Street
   (Tim Buckley) - 3:21
5.) Wanda Lu
   (Tim Buckley) - 2:38

 

In spite of an active touring schedule in support of the album the collection did little (savage reviews from the critics probably didn't help sales) and  Warner Brothers/Dscreet promptly dropped him from its recording roster.  Buckley subsequently ended his long-standing business relationship with manager Herb Cohen and within a matter of months he was dead of a heroin overdose.  

 

 

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