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Tim Buckley Tim Buckley
Album: Lady, Give Me Your Key: The Unissued 1967 Solo Acoustic Sessions
Label: Light In The Attic
Tracks: 13

Although Tim Buckley was one of the batch of mid-to-late-60s singer-songwriters who made their mark through albums released on the prestigious Elektra label, he was never just a "man with an acoustic guitar" on these albums, instead being mostly augmented (more debatably, enhanced) by rather expansive productions that involved acid-folk trappings and semi-orchestral instrumental timbres. From about album three (Happy Sad) onwards, he trended more towards jazz and experimental avant-garde musics. But it's probably fair to say that, initially at any rate, Tim's extraordinary, distinctive vocal style rather lent itself to ambitious backdrops and arrangements.

Between his eponymous (and largely folk-pop-flavoured) debut album and the sophomore offering Goodbye And Hello, he got together with the intended producer of the latter, Jerry Yester, to set down in the studio some basic takes of a number of new songs he'd penned with his lyricist and best friend Larry Beckett, at first ostensibly to satisfy Elektra bosses' demands for a hit single. "Writing to order", Tim and Larry first produced AM-pop side Once Upon A Time and subversive-FM side Lady, Give Me Your Key, then went onto material that might bridge the gap to a new LP. Two separate voice-and-guitar sessions - the Oak Court (Laurel Canyon) Demos and the (Manhattan Studio) Acetate - yielded a total of 13 songs, of which only six were to find their way onto the Goodbye And Hello LP. Naturally, these provide an interesting comparison with the more heavily-scored album versions, but the extreme value of this collection lies in the remaining seven songs, none of which ever subsequently appeared on any of Tim's albums. The projected single was later re-recorded with a band but never released (although the A-side surfaced on an obscure 2009 compilation), while of the five non-single songs only I Can't Leave You Lovin' Me had been heard in any form, when it cropped up on the Live At The Folklore Center 1967 set issued in 2009. The remaining four songs were to swiftly disappear from Tim's repertoire completely, which is astounding when you hear the quality of these compositions, notably Contact and Sixface (tho' Marigold and She's Back Again are not exactly throwaway pieces either).

The Demos session in particular is very well recorded, and its intimacy captures the assured if iconoclastic presence of Tim Buckley, artist and creator of original songs. It seems pretty clear that Jerry Yester understood what Tim was about, and notwithstanding his role as producer of the actual Goodbye And Hello album it's his work in the preliminary session at Oak Court that in the end is all the more revealing. And given that an awful lot of myth has grown up around the Buckley Legend, even the most devoted Buckley fan is likely to find fresh insights in the booklet accompanying this release, which includes a transcription of an interview with both Larry and Jerry. These guys really knew Tim, and it shows in this revealing conversation. He had so many plans, and his untimely, premature death at the age of just 28 is thus doubly tragic. Which makes this new release more than doubly essential for Tim Buckley fans - if that can be imagined!

David Kidman