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Tim Buckley - Starsailor CD (album) cover


Tim Buckley


Prog Folk

4.16 | 102 ratings

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Captain Midnight
5 stars Don't let the album cover fool you, this is far far faaarr from a traditional folk album This may be one of the most polarizing records of all time, certainly one of the most uncompromising ever by an artist who was once considered a folk singer/songwriter. Right up there with something Scott Walker or Tom Waits would make. The experiments on the first side of Lorca give you a good indication of what's going on in the first 2 songs here. Both have the same meandering instrumentation combined with slow, sonorous vocal intonations that create a dissonant nightmare. Imagine Ornette Coleman also using his voice as an instrument and you get the picture. If that didn't make you turn off your record player, "Monterey" might. It seems a bit more structured and uptempo due to Lee Underwood's repeated guitar figure and the constant high-hat taps but it's actually quite a languid song, though less so than the previous songs. Here is where the vocals really come off the rails, with swooping dissonance and bleating noises. It's a brilliant track, quite difficult to warm to, but powerfully experimental. As an oasis in your experimental desert, Tim offers you the brief, jaunty, perfect pop of "Moulin Rouge". It's intent is clear, "Please don't run away yet! You still have like 2/3 of an album to go!" This is followed by the most famous track on the album, "Song to the Siren", a holdover from 1968. The original acoustic version he performed on the last episode of the Monkees series somewhat resembled his other 68 material, but here the flanged guitar and treated background vocals create a song that really doesn't sound like it belongs anywhere in Tim Buckley's discography. The vocal is one of the most emotive of his career.

Side 2 has some more uptempo songs to keep the pace moving, but it also has the album's most experimental track in the title track. Composed entirely of Tim's synthesized vocals, noise just weaves in and out with only snatches of intelligible lyrics here and there. It's an awesome track. Someone once said that Tim Buckley did for the voice what Jimi Hendrix did for the guitar, and here is the clearest example. It's interesting to note that Buffy St. Marie also processed and synthesized only her vocals and guitar for the bevy of sounds found on her 1969 masterpiece Illuminations.

Captain Midnight | 5/5 |


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