Fricke's Picks: Buckley Stripped Bare

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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.