Don’t Wanna Weep For You, Don’t Wanna Know

October 2, 2010

Jeff Buckley

Grace

(1994)

 

            “At the record company meeting, on their hands a dead star,” is how the opening lines of the Smiths’ “Death at One’s Elbow,” go.  Morrissey was obviously not writing about Jeff Buckley but his posthumous career can be summed up as such.  Grace was his only proper album and has been reissued at least twice within the last 15 years.  He was had a decent following among those who caught him late night on MTV or on adult alternative stations until he drowned in 1997 while he was still working on his follow up album.  Then every somewhat “in the know” music fan/singer was claiming they’ve been heavily influenced by him since they was knee high to a Chihuahua.

        Grace is intense and on first listen, you can deduce that this may be some of the greatest performances put to disk.  ”Mojo Pin,” and “Grace,” the first two tracks, have a mystical transcendent quality while “Last Goodbye,” brings you back down to earth.  The album has three cover songs—“Lilac Wine,” which heralds back to his Billie Holiday loving early work, “Corpus Christi Carol,” a track that’s a tad self-indulgent for my liking, and the amazing “Hallelujah.”

            The pacing of Grace is inspired as well; slow and swirling tracks are followed by punchy rockers and then Jeff gets all introspective and soft again.  No wonder he was panicking about album number two; how does one follow up such an instant classic?   He ended up rerecording My Sweetheart, the Drunk after not being satisfied with Tom Verlaine’s production of the original version. He also tried out the material obsessively while touring incognito at small venues.  The album was not finished and we’re left with Sketches  which, no surprise, could in no way be considered near the level of greatness that Grace is.

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