Tim Buckley – Dream Letter Live in London 1968
Today’s featured album is a live recording by Tim Buckley made on this day 50 years ago at Queen Elizabeth Hall in London, though it wasn’t released until 1990. It captures Buckley shifting into mid-career, stylistically speaking, and contains mostly songs from his second album, Goodbye and Hello, and his then yet-to-be-released third album, Happy Sad.
Buckley had one of the most distinctive voices in music, featuring a very dynamic vocal range – something that would also be heard from his estranged son years after Tim’s death. He was exposed to jazz music by his mother and grandmother at a very young age, and as he developed as a musician and songwriter his muse took him places in the realm of jazz and avant-garde that all but ensured his commercial failure. Despite this, much of his catalog is highly regarded by critics (and this fan).
But at the time of this performance Buckley was still in folk-jazz mode, and he performed with a band featuring Lee Underwood on guitar, David Friedman on vibraphone, and Pentangle’s Danny Thompson on stand-up bass. The recording also shows Buckley had a sense of humor, judging from the between-song banter. On the whole, I consider Dream Letter to be a very enjoyable listen. Standouts for me include Buzzin’ Fly, Phantasmagoria in Two, Carnival Song/Hi Lily, Hi Lo, Dream Letter/Happy Time, and Wayfaring Stranger/You Got Me Running. This is a beautifully recorded concert, delivered in full on this release.
Tim Buckley seems to have been “one of those artists” for whom things just didn’t fall into place, and he also didn’t help himself when it came to album sales and expanding his audience. He was shy and not friendly with the media, and his rather extreme stylistic changes, which almost seemed to be made out of spite, only alienated what fan base he did have as the 1970’s ensued. When he died of a heroin overdose in 1975, he was broke and had met his young son and future shooting star, Jeff, one time.
- Buzzin’ Fly
- Phantasmagoria in Two
- Morning Glory
- I’ve Been Out Walking
- The Earth is Broken
- Who Do You Love?
- Pleasant Street/You Keep Me Hanging On
- Love from Room 109/Strange Feelin’
- Carnival Song/Hi Lily, Hi Lo
- Dream Letter/Happy Time
- Wayfaring Stranger/You Got Me Runnin’
- Once I Was