Tim Buckley

Dream Letter

Live in London 1968

Disc One: http://www.divshare.com/download/4719883-d0c

Disc Two: http://www.divshare.com/download/4720122-b8c

Many critics and fans have hailed Tim Buckley as one of the distinctive voices of the 60s/early 70s. That is true, but I always felt that his actual albums never delivered on the endless promise of that voice. There are moments of brilliance on his first six albums. From the earnest folk troubadour to the whacked catharsis of Starsailor, he hit plateaus matched by few others of the era. However, none of the albums qualified as classics, just classic moments. I always found myself grabbing for Fred Neil, Bill Fay and even Donovan records before Buckley’s because they were just brilliant through and through.

A musical awakening arrived when a friend bought me Dream Letter Live in London for a birthday present. It was sort of an awkward time in my life as I found my way in a new city and emotions were unsteady. One I heard his version of “Dolphins”, Fred Neil went out of my playlist for awhile since Buckley’s version blew it up into some fantastical epic even more beautiful and melancholy than his version. Even songs I disliked in their recorded versions became favorites once I heard them performed in a live setting. This set finds hime improving on the recorded versions as he stretches out the structure of each track without delving too far into the caterwauling that sometimes turned me off.

The first cd of this double whammy is pretty stellar, but the second disc really finds him mining some dark emotional spaces as he seems intent on exorcising some personal demons onstage. There is a track where “Carnival Song” segues into “Hi Lily, Hi Lo” It begins with a simple musing about the lack of carnivals in NYC and how it doesn’t mean much, but then starts singing about a lady named Lily who should come and join in with the festivities. It is a romantic request for his lady to get into the spirit and embrace the moment and dance with him. Yes, that sounds mundane, but I would dance with this fellow at monster truck showdown after this life-affirming track. It is a plea for happiness and triumph over depression that is delivered in such a tender fashion that it sums up the essence of love.

M83-Don’t Save Us From the Flames (Superpitcher remix)


Well, this is the other fine example of Kompakt shoegazing discussed in the earlier post. This one may actually best the M83 remix below. Maybe it is because it lasts for 12 minutes. Just look at the man. If that doesn’t look like a man who is ready to pounce on your bones, then I’m a eunuch. To quote a certain belligerent canine puppet, “I kid, I kid.” This one has it all: repetitive, throbbing beats, ethereal crescendos, fey vocals and a slinky vibe that I could listen to all day. It’s only one track, but what a doozie it is!


Run Into Flowers(Remixed by Jackson and his Computer Band)


It is uncommon to find a track that oozes sensuality. I don’t mean sleaze or cheap thrills, but the pulsating, fuzzy kind of sensuality where each drugged beat pulsates and recreates the awkward moments before a first kiss. This track somehow takes the Kompakt label’s narcotic beats and melds it to the amniotic sac of the best shoegaze and ambient circa early 90s and the result is a track which I have listened to incessantly. This songs cries out for a genre that hasn’t yet been fully explored and I hope some warped soul starts specializing in shoegaze via Kompakt by was of Basic Channel.


God Says I Can’t Dance (1996)


This is Tipographica’s third album, an instrumental Japanese band strongly inspired by Zappa’s 70’s output. I can also hear some influence from the RIO bands of the early 90’s like 5uu’s and U Totem. Like the better of the avant prog bands, Tipographica usually keep their compositions relatively catchy such that the songs never get too difficult to listen to. Constantly changing rhythms, a wide variety of instruments (sax being prominent and exceptional from a guy who also played a few gigs with Ruins which can be heard on the live portion of Ruins’ excellent Refusal Fossil album) and great production values are a few of the key ingredients. Though Tipographica are sadly no longer together, I view this as one of the best albums from the 90’s.

The Delays

Faded Seaside Glamour


I cannot begin to count the ways I hated this album at first listen. An esteemed colleague pulled me aside during a happy hour or a drunken visit to the nearby record store a few blocks from the selfsame happy hour. It doesn’t really matter other than to suggest that I was resistant to his statement that “You need to hear this Delays album, it sounds like Stevie Nicks except it’s a dude singing.” Bryan, I apologize if I muddled the mixture as usual. However, I distinctly remember my defiance to the idea of a fellow putting on the guise of the ultimate gypsy, Stevie Nicks.

I have been indoctrinated to the gypsy supremacy of Stevie Nicks by more than a few ex-girlfirends. However, those same ex-girlfriends also attempted to convince me that Annie Lennox’s solo albums were masterpieces. (Editors note: I only believe them to be enjoyable albums in the company of a lovely woman.) When they brought up Sarah McLachlan as a feminine icon, I felt dirty, but said no. Tori Amos was a coin-toss, but I picked heads and I find the coin landing on tails much too often. I am getting carried away with myself, let’s get to The Delays, whom I love in a conditional way.

Lead singer Greg Gilbert has perfected the throaty magic of Ms. Nicks and wields it effectively and does sound like a fellow who can imitate Stevie Nicks after a whiskey and a few cigs. There is no mockery in this statement. I love this about his vocal acrobatics. I don’t even wince when the slow numbers happen and I think I am listening to The Wild Heart on my headphones.

Honestly, Isome of this is sheer mimicry while other moments really knock my socks off. The opener, “Wanderlust” opens with some well-placed steel drum as Gilbert swoons over every note of lyrics like “Can You hear that knocking in your soul/No, you don’t listen.” It is the theatrical qualities of his voice that make such lines work, just like a chorus of “Stand Back, Stand Back” worked. My parallels are drawn too closely since this band also delves into folk and Brit-pop. The other albums blow. This one offers an intriguing glimpse of what might have been.