Fricke's Picks: Buckley Stripped Bare


Tim Buckley was just 20 and a few months away from making his second Elektra album, the baroque-pop treasure Goodbye and Hello, when he gave the stunning raw-folk performance — just voice and acoustic guitar, taped with a single mike on a machine usually reserved for field recordings — on Live at the Folklore Centre, NYC — March 6, 1967 (Tompkins Square). The intimacy is audible; a few coughs during "Cripples Cry" are a rare break in the hypnotized silence of the audience, three dozen strong in a small room. Buckley sounds emboldened by the setting too, playing mostly new songs (six of them previously unreleased) with robust strumming and an aggressive delight in his rippled-glass cries. A year after this show, Buckley was deep into the liquid writing and improvised-vocal reverie of 1968's Happy Sad — he never made a studio record this simple and dramatic. A closer parallel: the 1993 solo tapes that became his son Jeff's debut, Live at Sin-é. In both, you get a Buckley on the verge, stripped bare and spellbinding.

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David Fricke

Rolling Stone senior writer David Fricke has more than 10,000 albums in his New York apartment. His first record review for the magazine was Frank Zappa's 'Sheik Yerbouti' (RS 290).

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