March 9, 2016

Tim Buckley - Blue Afternoon, 1969


I don't really have a sense of how people feel about Tim Buckley these days, other than a widespread unending fascination with "Song to the Siren," which could very well be a perfect song. I get the sense, though, that Happy/Sad is typically treated as Buckley's magnum opus, and that not much attention is given to Blue Afternoon, which he recorded in a month at the same time as Lorca and Starsailor. Some people think Buckley might have considered Blue Afternoon a throwaway record made to fulfill a contractual obligation to Frank Zappa and Herb Cohen's label, Straight. It's also a lot more approachable than some of his more avant-garde works, which might be off-putting to hardcore fans. I would love to hear that I'm way off and that this record is loved by many, because it's dreamy, in the more honest sense of the word.

I'm especially excited to share it today, on what feels like the first day of spring. Blue Afternoon is so lazy and honeyed that it feels like having too much wine at the picnic and drifting in and out of consciousness in the shade. Hazed in twelve-string guitar and vibraphone shimmer. Taking a jazz approach to folk, Buckley is moody, blissful, and deeply expressive. If this is in fact a throwaway album, all the more reason to stand in awe of his ability.


7 comments:

  1. You definitely do hear more about Happy/Sad and Starsailor, but I think Blue Afternoon has its fans – Woebot put it at #42 on his list of his favourite records (http://rateyourmusic.com/list/funks/woebots_the_100_greatest_records_ever__complete_/). And in his wonderful essay on Buckley, which sadly isn't available online, Ian Penman writes that "Blue Afternoon works as a piece, as all his albums would from now on, but there are individual songs here which, of their type, may never be bettered... Acoustic music has never sounded so humid, so stoned on its own textural possibilities."

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    1. if you're up for scanning the ian penman essay, i'd love to read it!

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    2. Sorry Jen, only just saw this. I don't actually have a copy of the Penman book but it looks like Paul has sort you out.

      Thanks so much for running this blog – you and Brian put up so much good stuff.

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  2. it's always been my fave, even over Starsailor. which is almost like saying "better than the best thing ever"! Lee Underwood himself said that Tim Buckley was more interested in the Lorca/Starsailor direction at the time and word is Tim was dissatisfied with the results on "The River" and "Cafe" (?!). lord knows how they could possibly improve this album... do you still need the Penman scan? it's the last essay in his collection Vital Signs.

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    1. if you have it readily available, i'd be very grateful if you could scan it!

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    2. hi Jen, did you get the scans? I emailed it to you on the 29th - I used the listen22this google mail address - that's not a typo right, two 2's not one - both this site and your fb page list it that way. if you didn't receive it I can resend.

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    3. Hey Paul, I'd also love the scan if you wouldn't mind sending it or posting it somewhere! If you could email me at "funk beyond jazz at g mail" (no spaces) i'd really appreciate it- Thanks!

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