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Tim Buckley - My Fleeting House CD (album) cover


Tim Buckley


Prog Folk

3.57 | 6 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
3 stars Although over ten years old, this DVD, in which the late great artist's career is told through interviews and TV appearances, still seems to be the only one available on the legendary American troubadour TIM BUCKLEY (1947 - 1975). But it's a pretty satisfying one nevertheless, at least if you don't expect any comprehensive concert footage. As the second one to write about this release here, I try to give a little more detailed overview.

I don't know the exact length. The main course is approximately 1 hour 20 minutes, and the extras -- sorry, I didn't pay much attention to time when watching this -- nearly an hour, I presume. I started my viewing with the extras, that is, album-by- album analysis by Buckley's lyric-writing partner and friend Larry Beckett, and guitarist Lee Underwood, both among the very closest collaborators of Buckley throughout his career (that lasted only about eight years until his death at the age of 28, due to heroin-alcohol overdose). I'd rather call them presentations than interviews; they talk (separately, in turns) to the camera, and they apparently have thought pretty well in advance what to talk about Tim Buckley's albums and his peculiar progress an an artist, showing the vinyl covers of each nine studio albums. There's also Beckett's reading of 'Song to the Siren' poem, and an anecdote dealing with the film Midnight Cowboy, into which Buckley probably would have written a song if Beckett had been available at the time.

Put in a nutshell, Buckley's career, which never was very succesful in commercial terms, had three different phases. First he was a pure folk troubadour, then he added jazzy and slightly avant-gardish elements in his music, especially as a unique vocalist, this phase culminating on the albums Lorca and Starsailor. For the last three albums generally seen as his weakest, he chose a more direct and funkier rock approach, partly due to economical pressures. But always he was an artist who made his own path, acting against expectations. This is the idea that is more clearly verbalized in the interview bits between the TV clips: Buckley disappointed his folk fans by taking his art to the extremes, and those who admired that phase were in turn disappointed by the final period.

The third central interviewee on the DVD (appearing only in between the TV clips) is David Browne, the author of "Dream Brother: the Lives and Music of Jeff and Tim Buckley", who also wrote the DVD's liner notes. Generally these clips of Buckley's intimate performances are quite good in sonic and visual quality. Some are cut quite short though. The viewer may choose to watch the performances only, but I found out that if you press "next", you're taken back to the whole film containing the interviews also. The chronological set starts with an enigmatic, unaccompanied performance of 'Song to the Siren' from 1967. BTW, the running order shown on this page is not correct. A few performances are with Lee Underwood (guitar) and Carter Collins (hand percussion). On the four 1970 performances -- from two different sources -- Buckley is accompanied by Underwood, a rhythm section and a trumpeter. 'Pleasant Street' is a solo performance clip taken from an obscure comedy The Christian Licorice Store. "That's future Bond girl Maud Adams in the role of the photographer", tells Browne.

The latest clip is from the British Old Grey Whistle Test in 1974; Buckley performs one of his own favourite cover songs, Fred Neil's 'The Dolphins', with members of Family (an interesting curiosity for a prog listener). I borrowed the DVD, and viewing it just once seems to be quite enough for me. But since Tim Buckley was such a charismatic artist, the sole DVD of him does have an unquestionable value, even if the contents (starting with the song selection) were not exactly what one would have dreamt of having. Solid three stars will do; perhaps I'd given a fourth star for a little more (technically and visually) dedicated DVD product. Each viewer probably wants to continue by listening to his/her favourites of Tim Buckley's albums. Mine is Happy Sad.

Matti | 3/5 |


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