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Jeff Buckley

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    Jeff Buckley

    Grace 9 ( 1994 )
    Mojo Pin / Grace / Last Goodbye / Lilac Wine / So Real / Hallelujah / Lover, You should've come over / Corpus Christi Carol / Eternal Life / Dream Brother

    Jeff Buckley's only official and complete studio album. Released in 1994, three years later he'd drink some wine, go for a swim and never come back. In the immediate aftermath of his death, it wasn't apparent what sort of loss his musical talent really would prove to be. 'Grace' had been critically acclaimed but was, after all, only his debut album. The fact that many singers since have been described as bearing his influence just goes to show how good this one album really was. His voice could go from a whisper to a roar but he never really showed off with his singing - despite having one of the finest voices of a generation. Musically, there are no obvious melodies rather shifting moods, tempos and intensities. The lyrics are full of a search for redemption and all about love, loss and faith. The result is this. 'Grace'.

    Opening 'Mojo Pin' displays exactly what this album is all about. A quiet introduction, that swooning voice, a beautiful wordless sound. Whispered words. The guitars begin to take on a rock hue and the voice continues. A mention of 'black beauty', 'first love' and then the wordless vocal returns. We have beautiful lilting guitar in the quieter sections, rock guitar in the 'chorus' parts. He is certainly backed with empathy by this group of musicians. One of the keys to this record is the atmosphere is maintained. The flow of songs is perfect and beautiful. 'Mojo Pin' flows into 'Grace' the title song. The vocal is a sheer beauty, a thing of wonder. 'I'm not afraid to die' goes one part of the lyric. This song actually sounds more commercial than some of the others here. A good counterpart to the heavily atmospheric opening song. An amazingly strong album opening sequence is completed with 'Last Goodbye'. This was released as a single and brought him to a wider audience. The mood of the song is all devotional love mixed in the possibility of loss 'this is our last embrace, must I dream and always see your face'. Beautiful words. The chorus is absolutely thrilling with rock guitars and his voice sailing over the top, soaring higher in tone as if reaching for the heavens. A wondrous moment. A string section pops in. I usually get tearful and joyous at the same time listening to this song. Brilliant, no other word will do.

    There are no obvious weak points on the album. He took his time with the recording process, changing, perfecting. The performance is everything. 'Lilac Wine' is all performance. A tender and pretty vocal amid slow shifting bass and delicate guitar. 'So Real' repeats the quiet/loud formula of 'Last Goodbye' but with significantly more Rock thrown in. A guitar sounds like a buzzsaw at one point. The louder sections are as intense as hell and the other vocals are whispered, quietly caressed. 'Lover You Should Come Over' has great melodic moments and again, beautiful vocal parts. Gospel influenced vocals come in towards the end.

    The second half of the album isn't easy going actually. This isn't an album that will immediately reveal its charms and delights first few listens. 'Dream Brother' and especially 'Corpus Christi Carol' are all atmospheres and shifting moods. The melody isn't obvious, it needs teasing out. Melody is there, a good half of it at least is provided by his vocals. All your attention will focus on THAT voice. Such a sheer presence. Closing 'Dream Brother' does some interesting musical things. Jeff was a huge fan of English group The Cocteau Twins and some of the guitars do sound a bit Cocteau Twins on this song. A good song actually. The centrepiece of the album for many is his version of Leonard Cohenís 'Hallelujah'. Not the first person to cover the song and its such a good song anyway, he could hardly fail. A single guitar and Jeff Buckley's vocal is all thatís present. A minimal stripped back performance but with such a spiritual, devotional vocal. It really will bring a tear to your eye. 'Grace' is a wonderful album. It has stood the test of time and always was going to. As I said, its appeal is slow burning. Give it time, listen to it. Its an album that deserves to be listened to and paid attention to. It's a beautiful record and some debut.

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    Readers Comments

    guerillabedlam dogsflyhigh@hotmail.com
    I think your rating is right on with this one. I bought this album on a friend's recommendation and I was shocked about how good this guy's voice was. This album sounds almost fresh in "the age of melancholy" that was mostly angry, dark grunge, angry rap, or jingly breakup songs. Buckley sounds more genuine, delicate, and vulnerable than his peers and i hate to admit it but probably helped influnce this joke of a genre emo. But he also helped influence bands like Radiohead so its all good. It wouldve been interesting to see where he wouldve gone had he not passed on. If there were such a list I would probably put Mr. Buckley at #1 for the musician that had the most potential.

    David davidmichel350@hotmail.com
    I have been a Jeff buckley fan since 1995, when i picked up a copy of "Grace". The song that really strikes me on the live album is eternal life. I recently saw a video clip of this song being played live, and the effort put in by Jeff is amazing. Every break between line of verse, he would play a short high pitched rock solo and the guitar almost sound like it was screaming in agony. He also has an angry appearance about himself and i must agree that it is the heaviest song on the album. I did not know Jeff had a side to himself quite like what he displayed in this song.

    greg greg-mac@tiscali.co.uk
    I have only just realised the wonders of Jeff Buckley. As when his short-lived career was blooming I was to young to appreciate it or understand and take notice of it. I have to admit that th 2nd part of Grace took some figuring out for me but now i adore them.

    Chris chrisfret2004@yahoo.co.uk
    What a wonderful, unique album this is. His loss was a terrible tragedy. I especially love 'Last Goodbye' and of course 'Hallelujah'. Gorgeous guitars, stunning vocals and such a special atmosphere throughout. At least 9.5/10.

    Gazza Edinburgh
    It still sounds wonderful and startlingly original today . A clear debt is owed by radiohead,travis,coldplay etc Tragedy of jeffs fate aside musically he was on another planet to his contemporaries ,for evidence listen to the way he holds that note on "grace" , the bollywood strings on "last goodbye" how time seems to stand still during "lilac wine" or the incredible fusion of styles in "dream brother". Live he was even better , an instinctive musician who let the music lead him in a multitude of directions , and he was no slouch as a guitarist either i can tell you . "forget her" should have been on the album but the new issue restores it to the running order and just enhances the perfection of this timeless album .

    Will Petersfield
    I can't believe who assured Buckley's debut sounds. He appropriates Hallelujah, provides a translucent version of Lilac Wine and shows his originals including the dreamlike Mojo Pin, the heartbreaking Last Goodbye, and the moonlit So Real to be more than a match. Great arrangements, sung with incredible multi octave flare. 10/10

    Mystery White Boy 8 ( 2000 )
    Dream Brother / I Woke Up In A Strange Place / Mojo Pin / Lilac Wine / What Will You Say / Last Goodbye / Eternal Life / Grace / Moodswing Whiskey / The Man That Got Away / Kanga Roo / Hallelujah-I Know It's Over (medley)

    A posthumous live album compiled from a number of concerts Jeff performed in 1995/96. The first of many such live records, probably. This serves enough of a purpose for any Jeff fan though that isn't bordering on the absolutely fanatical. A few new songs here too that he was working on prior to his death. Before that, we have 'Dream Brother' made opening song here as opposed to its position as closing song on 'Grace'. I must say it works better as closer rather than opener. The actual performance is pretty great although at nearly nine minutes in length slightly trying as an album opener. Of the new songs 'I Woke Up In A Strange Place' is absolutely fantastic and wonderful. It doesn't sound polished and may have been a work in progress. It does however contain decent melody, lyrics and is well performed here. One of the best rockier numbers Jeff ever did, in fact. All the songs from 'Grace' are performed well though obviously lacking the studio overdubs, etc. This is most noticeable on 'Last Goodbye' which struggles to match its studio counterpart. 'Mojo Pin' sounds as lovely as ever though. 'What Will You Say' is another new song, another work in progress. It has its moments for sure but isn't as captivating as 'I Woke Up In A Strange Place' for me personally. A highlight of this set is the closing medley of 'Hallelujah' with a version of The Smiths 'I Know It's Over' worked into it. I would have adored to hear Jeff perform the full song 'I Know It's Over'. The tantalising burst of it he does give sends a chill up the spine. A couple of lesser moments are included on the record. 'The Man That Got Away' does nothing for me and 'Kanga Roo' although sporting good guitar sections is simply far too long. A decent live album though and it does work to add to his legacy. The actual performances are great throughout.

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    Jamie Edmondson Jeffrey.Edmondson1@btopenworld.com
    What a great album!! The opener "Mojo Pin! is excellent. The whispers create a tenderness for the song, then a perfect contrast is met when Gary Lucas' "magicalguitarness" kicks in. Like you say, "Mojo Pin" runs beautifully into "Grace", which has superb guitar riffing and great vocals. The song is aggressive but at the same time the meaning of that word "Grace" runs straight through you. Before I heard this song I was like hmm "Grace" must be a very layed back song, but it's a real atmospheric, climaxing piece of work. "Last Goodbye" is probably my favourite cut. The lyrics are so moving, I really feel something store inside of me when I hear this one. The strings are beautiful, and when Jeff goes "Did you say, no this can't happen to me", thats when I get up an start freakin' out round my bedroom! "Hallelujah" is very spiritual, how an earth does Jeff hold that note towards the end! "Lover, You Should've Come Over" is very dramatic with great vocals, when listening to this I always feel Dylan's "Blood On The Tracks" is in there somewhere. "Eternal Life" is the most aggressive piece on this album, great guitar and vocals. What a great album!

    Gazza Edinburgh
    A quite wonderful live album , it shows all the facets of jeffs talent pretty well , his exquisite vocals,powerful guitar playing,his unpredictability . Music just flowed from this guy . Key tracks : dream brother, and eternal life (both better than the recorded versions) , what will you say ? , and hallelujah/i know its over where jeff provides his best vocal performance . Life is cruel sometimes , but this music gives us hope that something better and kinder is always possible .

    Sketches For My Sweetheart The Drunk 7 ( 1998 )
    The sky is a landfill / Everybody here wants you / Opened once / Nightmares by the sea / Yard of blonde girls / Witches' rave / New Year's prayer / Morning Theft / Vancouver / You and I / Nightmares by the sea / New Year's prayer / Haven't you heard / I know we could be so happy baby (If we wanted to be) / Murder Suicide meteor slave / Back in N.Y.C / Gunshot glitter / Demon John / Your flesh is so nice / Jewel Box / Satisfied mind

    This isn't the second Jeff Buckley studio album. And, its always possible NONE of these performances would have made it through. Jeff was about to embark on a series of new recording sessions just prior to his death. The second CD comprises of 4 track demos and many song titles are featured. The highlights though are almost all on the first CD. We have opener 'The Sky Is A Landfill'. Biting guitars and a fuzzy rocking middle section. This is harder material than his Grace debut. One song in particular you can assume WOULD have been on the official follow up to 'Grace' had it ever been made. That song is 'Everybody Here Wants You'. Its pretty impossible to imagine this song being improved or sounding any better than it already does. An impeccable vocal performance, mid tempo but such a swooning swoonsome powerful vocal. A wonderful moment. 'Nightmares By The Sea' is the other obvious highlight here. It's actually featured twice, once on the 'studio' disc and once on the demos disc. Its fair to assume this also would have made the final running order though possibly with a different performance. The remainder of the songs on the first disc are all enjoyable though sometimes do seem half finished and lacking in terms of the musical performance. The vocals are all fine, no complaints there although nothing here reaches out to you in the way the performances on 'Grace' managed to do.

    The disc of demos opens with another performance of 'Nightmares By The Sea'. It sounds better than the more produced version that features on the first CD! We have such titles as 'Murder Suicide Meteor Slave' certainly songs in very early stages of development. So much so, it's hard to speculate how they would have eventually sounded or indeed if they would have been persevered with at all. 'Murder Suicide Meteor Slave' lacks much of a tune or much of anything. Its dubious listening, really. It's doubtful Jeff would have wanted this to see the light of day at all for public consumption. 'Your Flesh Is So Nice' is very strange! It lends itself to a dumb rock n roll performance and he sings this almost in a parody of the likes of Iggy Pop! 'Jewel Box' has one of the better vocal performances on the second CD, the closer 'Satisfied Mind' is a cover recorded at a different time to the other songs here. He also chose interesting covers to perform and this is no exception. Quiet, spiritual - its on a par with the likes of 'Hallelujah'. Well, almost. It could have been had it been properly recorded. Overall this is obviously a strange release. It's almost like you shouldn't be listening to it all. Still, we do have a number of songs that make important additions to his catalogue and make this a worthy release.

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    Jonathan Roseveare jrr1@ukc.ac.uk
    Ok so it's not better than Grace but I bet it would have been if Jeff would have actually finished it! This reminds me of The Beatles double album in that about half of it is great but there's also a lot of filler thrown in. Some tracks aren't good (and are repeated), but many are as good as anything on Grace including the first three tracks. My personal fav is Opened Once, which has a breezy like quality to it: very beautiful. Don't buy the live albums though especially the recent one with the white cover: it's awful and is making a mockery of his legacy.

    Laurie laurie3@speakeasy.net
    I wanted to post a comment in response to Jonathan's comment that the "recently released live album with the white cover" is "awful". I assume he's referring to Live a l'Olympia. The audio recording quality of the album is rather bad (they resurrected this from a cassette tape), but the band's song performances, most notably "Lover...", "Lilac Wine", "Grace" and "Dream Brother", are better here than anywhere ... even on Grace itself. The acapella/gospel edge Jeff gave to "Lilac Wine" makes the Grace version seem boring. On "Lover..." and "Grace", his vocals soar fifths and octaves above what was recorded on Grace and the notes are much more energetic, passionate and pure. The Live a l'Olympia version of "Dream Brother", with additional lyrics like "your family, weeping" and "oh, you're just like him!", and the ending "wait, wait, wait in the fire" wails on the last minute of "Grace" still make the hair on the back of my neck stand up everytime I hear them. Jeff himself considered these performances in France to be the best work of his career. Jonathan ... get some good headphones and an equalizer and give this album another chance. I enjoyed your site and reviews! I'm really glad "Murder Suicide Meteor Slave" was released, because as weird and often harsh to the ears as that demo is, there's something about it that shows hauntingly brilliant potential - especially if you close your eyes and imagine it in a scaled down acoustic form. It's a damn shame we'll never know what the final intention was.

    Steph swedishpumpkin@hotmail.com
    i think that this website is exactly right about jeff buckley. he is such a talented musician, with such a variety of songs containing various moods and emotions. personally i feel that his music can be enjoyed by all ages. i have been listeing to his music for a while now and i never get tired of hearing 'last goodbye' and 'lilac wine'. they are just so beautiful. anyway i enjoyed reading your comments.

    Brad Smith AnalogImage@hotmail.com
    Jeff Buckley is perhaps one of the most rare and gifted artitsts in the past 20 years. Not only has he released some truly timeless classic music, but he managed to get into the public eye with it, which tends not to happen so much anymore with all the muck people are subject to these days. Thank God he reached the cult status that he acheived, otherwise there might be NO hope or reference for others to attempt what he did. The fact that he was discovered in a shite little New York coffee shop cause he repeatedly packed the place is as romantic a discovery story as any I've heard. Even moreso, when at the time (and now still) so many bands and artists are just music business fabrications. I notice that often musicians in particular tend to put Grace on a pedestal, and rightly so - it would probably rank in my top 3 albums released in the last several years, but thank God for "Sketches", particularly to someone like myself who enjoys the opportunity to analyse an artist'! s development in writing. While it's true that Jeff himself may not have been happy with the songs as they were, one can still see clearly where they were going (speaking of the first album here, as the second album is mostly just stuff he recorded for fun on his own gear in some house in Memphis - well worth the listen - Especially his cover of Genesis' "back in N.Y.C., interestingly a band he was influenced by). A few of the tracks on the first disk are among my favs of his entire released material.

    Also, it's worth noting that I feel that perhaps some of the very best guitar tones I've ever heard on record were played by Jeff Buckley. If you're looking for pristine jangly rickenbacker uncomparable, take a good listen to the track "Vancouver" on a good system, it'll floor you. While most people are (rightly) wowed by his vocal prowess, his guitar playing ability tends to go under the radar. For that matter, the rest of his band does too and they are really r! eally tasteful players. If you have an affinity for well writt! en, beau tifully arranged, and uncomparably performed songs on record, you can do no wrong with "Grace". If you find it's your thing, "Sketches" may be your next step.

    Gazza garyhess44@hotmail.com
    Its just past the 10th anniversary of jeffs death so i thought id comment . Obviously this is unfinished work , the 1st disc constitutes Tom verlaines initial production work which jeff was unhappy with . He clearly doubted the quality of some of the songs as he began writing a new batch after verlaine left .Strangely it sounds fine if rather anaemic , the performances arent quite on the money but its obvious that the vocal performance and musical ideas are in place. i think jeff was a classic case of burn out,hence the delay and uncertainty about the follow up. Self doubt was getting to him - his label had toured him into the ground .Happened to many an artist with a smash 1st album. I remember seeing him live in edinburgh and he was clearly bombed on smack , and delivered a very loose but entertaining performance .He was obviously one of the greatest vocalists of the last 20 years . That night he played an amazingly intense song called "what will you say when yo! u see my face" which amazingly wasnt attempted for the 2nd album sessions . The 2nd disc of demos is hard going "jewel box" and " i know we could be happy" were really strong melodies and with band performances would have made the finished record . "satisfied mind " should have too . "yard of blonde girls" and "witches rave" shouldnt have. "Morning theft" and "opened once" are my favourite songs on disc 1 , the 1st song paying tribute to liz fraser of the cocteau twins (whom jeff had a brief affair with) the 2nd like some other lyrics here hinting almost prophetically at the tragedy to come . "new years prayer" and "you and i" show jeffs love of pakistani devotional music . "vancouver" sees jeffs vocal getting more excited as the track progresses in the thrill of the creative moment. This guy could do anything musically and his death was a great tragedy. With songs like sky is a landfill/everbody here wants you/opened once/nightmares by the sea/i know w! e could be so happy/morning theft/vancouver/new years prayer/j! ewel box /satisfied mind ... its pretty clear that a finished follow up along these lines would have been very strong . We can only wonder at what he might have achieved . RIP jeff ....

    this page last updated 10/05/09

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