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Tim Buckley

Prog Folk

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Tim Buckley Starsailor album cover
4.11 | 92 ratings | 5 reviews | 38% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 1970

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Come Here Woman (4:09)
2. I Woke Up (4:02)
3. Monterey (4:30)
4. Moulin Rouge (1:57)
5. Song to the Siren (3:20)
6. Jungle Fire (4:42)
7. Starsailor (4:36)
8. The Healing Festival (3:16)
9. Down by the Borderline (5:22)

Total Time 35:54

Line-up / Musicians

- Tim Buckley / vocals, 12-string guitar, producer

- Lee Underwood / guitar, electric piano, pipe organ
- Buzz Gardner / trumpet, flugelhorn
- Bunk Gardner / alto flute, tenor saxophone
- John Balkin / electric & acoustic basses
- Maury Baker / timpani, traps

Releases information

Artwork: Ed Thrasher (photo)

LP Straight ‎- WS 1881 (1970, US)
LP 4 Men With Beards ‎- 4M134 (2007, US)

CD Straight ‎- 7 73505- (1989, US)

Thanks to Sean Trane for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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TIM BUCKLEY Starsailor ratings distribution

(92 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(38%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(30%)
Good, but non-essential (21%)
Collectors/fans only (7%)
Poor. Only for completionists (4%)

TIM BUCKLEY Starsailor reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Sean Trane
5 stars Buckley's most bizarre and personal album is also the most difficult to get nowadays, being out of print for many years, most likely for contractual reasons. Indeed, Elektra was rather peeved as Buckley's continued (and wanted) lack of success, especially so that they really believed in his many talents to become a superstar. Frustrations were addressed at the singer's choice of material and in some ways, you can see where they're coming from. So when Lorca came out as sombre much like Happy Sad had, they simply gave up on him and let him go. Buckley's outrageous talents where being kept for producing rather obscure and very personal songs, shying away from commercialism, but in some ways, knowing the era, this album could've sold massively had Buckley's image been handled correctly. So Starsailor is the second album (released in November 70) on the Straight Records label after Blue Afternoon, but also the first without his "jazz group" line-up. In the meantime, over the last three (four) decades, this album has grown to a myth status (almost deserved) partly because of its scarce nature, but it is one of those that deserve its cult status as well.

As announced in Lorca, Balkin was gaining influence on Buckley and, presenting him with avant-garde music, he also hired ex-Zappa collab Buzz Gardner and his brother Bunk on wind instruments, both being part of his MÚnage A Trois avant-garde project. Now that Tim was writing once again with Larry Beckett, Starsailor is the album that helped Tim going over the top, reaching deeply in his many angsts and his general restless with his family life certainly not being able to rest him down. Gone are the lengthy tracks of Happy/Sad or Lorca, but this doesn't mean that the music is losing out in terms of depth or adventure, but gains in conciseness, even if the progheads wouldn't have minded the better tracks to last double their length, because they're so beautiful and personal. The young troubadour of the debut album has grown into an estranged, misunderstood and twisted artiste, soon to be irrecuperable for many.

Slowly crawling from the woodwork, the drums, cymbals and bass announce that Tim is in a very moody spirit, and indeed, he comes out smooth but menacing, restraining his horses until the third verse where he can't hide is incredible power and shows no restraint and unleashes all hell, before going madly into dissonant realm, with a weird pipe organ to stop the track from derailing. Luckily for themselves and their sanity, not many women heard this Come Here Women track opening up grandiosely the album, preparing the listener for the even weirder I Woke Up. The second track is really a slow deliria and most likely improvised jazzy, somewhere between Keith Tippet or Julie Driscoll, where Buzz Gardner's trumpet holds part of the blame for the track's bleakness. Just as dark and menacing, but more funky like the future (and excellent) Greetings From LA, Tim's voice haunts, prowls, hunts you down to every corner of your brains, chasing your fears into oblivion, then pulling them into the open. Under a tense guitar riff, with crazy drumming, a haunting bass, Tim unleash all of it, baring it all until his primal scream becomes ape-like. The track ends in an unfortunate fade-out, but I'd give a fortune to hear the next three minutes he would've written. As incredible as the album had started, Tim screws it up with a dumb French-sung Moulin Rouge (he'd done it in Happy/sad already), which he should've abstained altogether. The only good thing is that it's less than 2 minutes. But Tim corrects this blunder by including one of his mist iconic track ever (but not my fave, by far), the famous Song To The Siren, cover by just about everyone that matters. Elsewhere The Healing Festival blows one's mind with a 10/4 rhythm pattern.

The flipside opens in the completely madness of Jungle Fire (in 5/4), where Tim shows that even label- mate Jim Morrison's dark side was not unique, the group is indeed fully aware of Tim's madness and perfectly apt at following his meanders into insanity, managing to pull him back out and into an insane funk groove where Tim's voice tears it all apart and there are unreal screams behind him. Again a real sad and unfortunate fade-out ends it, but the intro of the next (title) track is probably more mind- boggling than Robert Wyatt's Rock Bottom. If we can imagine Robert's madness on his hospital bed, when regarding life without walking, this track's distress is to be multiplied by 100 and would not sound out of place on Ummagumma (next to Eugene) either Not that Healing Festival will pull your sanity in the right direction either. Bunk Gardner's (that Buzz's brother, no kidding) sax leading the way over a wild and all-over-the-place group. The closing Borderline is starting out on Buzz's (that's Bunk's brother) Spanish-sounding trumpet and will soar over another funky track, previewing again Greetings From LA, where Underwood's guitar, Gardner's trumpet and Tim's wailings are exchanging wild solos.

As far as personal albums go, I don't think that there is a rock artiste that went as far as Buckley in the present or Wyatt in the aforementioned Rock Bottom, and those mentioning Tim's on Jeff's sole official album called Grace, should really listen to Starsailor before opening their mouth. In spite of one false step (Moulin Rouge), this album is really close to the fifth star,

Review by Marty McFly
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Errors and Omissions Team
3 stars Album that's not for enjoying, but for appreciating. Like a perfect clean, dust-free museum, where you can admire exhibitions, "Starsailor" shows what can be done when you experiment with Folk (and mixture of other, uncommon genre-connections). But you have to love the guy for trying, for creating something that weird. It's certainly mark in history of music, even it's very small mark (because this album won't win you as much fans as mainstream music would). Can you enjoy mainstream album more ? I think so, but is it better ? Well, that's the tricky question. I don't know.

I just listen to this "effort", sometimes in horror (obviously), sometimes trying to survive through its painful dissonant twists, sometimes appreciating its harmonies (in a dark sense of this word) and trying to understand its hidden message. Will I be successful ? I don't think so.

OK, you may think that there goes barbarian Marty and stomps on all "higher" culture. Or I don't ? Think of this as sober man's thinking, not hardcore weirdo music lover, but average Prog listener point of view, opinion of not music expert, but just someone, who likes to try a lot of different music (and let it make an effect on me).

3(+), why not give lesser rating ? Because of its quality, because of how it feels. Weird, but also like something out of this world. Unique. Why not more ? Well, because weirdness doesn't equal quality. I'm giving average rating, because that's how I feel about it, torn between need to enjoy something in order to like it, but also torn from opposite side - wanting more, something daring and unbound - THIS.

This is a masterpiece, for lovers of this genre. I'm afraid others will be disappointed. But if you aren't, count yourself lucky that you can enjoy this. I can, but only partially. And how else should I rate, when I feel about this album that way. I gave it second chance (after initial TOTAL disappointment) and this time, I listened with ears wide ... open ?

Music just for special occasions.

Review by jamesbaldwin
5 stars Starsailor is a great album, an absolute masterpiece of rock music where Tim Buckely's voice reach expressive heights that perhaps no other rock singer has ever approached. It is not prog, it is a new genre, close to free jazz.

"Come Here Woman" is the most beatiful song of the disc (vote 8,5/9). The bass and the singing stand in a dissonant and polyrhythmic delirium, which joins the electric guitar and the piano in the background. It looks like a totally disconnected nightmare. Free jazz and avant-garde. "I Woke Up" begins slowly, but bass and guitar are very dissonant and follow the voice and and the trumpet. It is calm only in appearance, it seems a scene that wants to be romantic but is disturbed by schizoid behavior (vote 7,5/8). "Monterey" (vote 8) seems a canonic blues in the beginning but the voice take it to a unknown territory reaching overacute and expressionist sounds. "Moulin Rouge" is a silly song, alien to the others, a filler just to added two minutes at the duration of the disc (vote 6,5). "Song to the Siren" is maybe the first calm melody, near to romanticism. Again, the voice reaches peaks that only very few choosen can aspire. (Vote 7,5/8).

Side B opens with "Jungle Fire" "Jungle Fire" is similar to "Come here Woman", just dissonances but then a blues guitar try to mark the rhythm (vote 8+).

Starsailor distorts the melodies and transforms them into dissonant psychopathic delirium, where the singing tries to overcome the barriers of sound. It is the triumph of dissonance. "Starsailor", the song, is a cosmic exercise for the voice... with an avant-garde background... very arduous, (Vote 7,5). "The Healing Festival" is a festive delirium with trumpet dissonances and saxophone with the guitar to paint a semblance of rhythm. The drums are completely missing on the disc. (vote 7,5). "Down the borderline" is trumpet, jazz drums, and the singing to paint an obsessive atmosphere. Free jazz and avant-guarde. Another masterpiece (vote 8,5).

Medium quality of the songs: 7,83. (but 8,004 without Moulin Rouge) Much variety, a unraveling of instrumental and human sounds out of every classification, very ardous listened, a unique path. Vote: 9,5 Five stars

Review by Warthur
4 stars Starsailor is an accomplishment which is respectable but also deeply inaccessible. Drifting away from his folk-rock moorings more or less completely, Buckley unleashes the most wildly experimental album of his career to date. Song to the Siren may be the most famous cut on the album, but anyone expecting the stately majesty of the This Mortal Coil version is in for a shock. On the whole, it's the sort of album where I'm glad someone made it, but it isn't necessarily fun or rewarding to listen to - not because it isn't good, in fact it is, but because of how alienatingly weird it truly is.

Latest members reviews

5 stars Vocal extravaganza Tim Buckley had lost all of it's fans with Lorca, an avant-garde record, with almost no folk influences anymore. This didn't change his direction however and here we are standing at the highlight of Tim's career; Starsailor. This was not a commercial succes, but fans and Tim ... (read more)

Report this review (#643107) | Posted by the philosopher | Wednesday, February 29, 2012 | Review Permanlink

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