In 1991 the chief draw to these tapes would have been the acclaimed former Magic Band guitarist Gary Lucas. Now, of course, the presence of a 25-year old Jeff Buckley who was yet to make his recording debut is of overriding interest and the reason for these shelved demos, radio broadcasts, club performances and studio sessions recorded between August 1991 and April 1992 seeing the light of day. One of the major voices of his generation, he was sadly only to live another five years and to produce only one finished album in his lifetime.
No shoddy cash-in, this collection was commissioned and assembled under the watchful eyes of Mary Guibert, Jeff Buckley's mother, and Michael Dorf, from the Knitting Factory, where some of these live recordings originated. Its eleven tracks, beginning with a shattering performance of Edith Piaf's Hymne A L'Amour, document a critical moment in the formative period of Buckley's career, and include early versions of Mojo Pin and Grace, pivotal songs that Jeff Buckley wrote in collaboration with Gary Lucas while they were in the band Gods And Monsters, and which appeared on the album Grace with Gary Lucas guesting on guitar. The pair had met in April 1991 at the time of a tribute concert held at St Ann's Church in Brooklyn for Tim Buckley, Jeff's father, when both had wanted to perform the song Sefronia.
The twelve months that followed were transforming for Jeff Buckley's singing and musical direction and some of the key moments are documented here, including moments from the night at the Knitting Factory on 22 March 1992, broadcast live on the Music Faucet Show on WFMU, ten days after he had announced his decision to leave the band for a solo career, where, at the end of a tension-filled performance, he stayed on stage to perform an unaccompanied and poignant rendition of A Satisfied Mind.
This track has been embellished for this release for some reason, with additional guitar performed by Bill Frisell. This is a questionable practice but the end result does not sound unnatural or overstated. One other track has been doctored; She Is Free, which was a duet rehearsal recording made at Gary Lucas's home in January 1992, now more extravagantly features the band Sex Mob simulating the sort of direction Jeff Buckley was to develop within his music in the following year. Both Mary Guibert and the producer Hal Willner assure us that these overdubs improve the original recordings and that Jeff Buckley would have approved, though I feel slightly uneasy listening to something by him that he never heard.
Listening to the raw talent on show in these recordings, the subsequent success of Jeff Buckley, live and on record, was clearly inevitable