Dream Letter - Live In London 1968
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It's been said that Tim Buckley was the most powerful singer of his generation. Even if that appraisal forgets Bob Dylan, the live set Dream Letter makes a hell of a defence. At the very least, his voice could do things few could: it soared beyond any familiar register and held notes long past the breaking point. He learned from jazz vocalists such as Sarah Vaughn, but he put technical prowess into the service of a strange, trance-like state. On this evening, before a hushed, receptive audience, he seemed to be composing visionary poetry with every vocal surge. Creating an Astral Weeks-like sound, his band included Lee Underwood on guitar, David Friedman on vibes and Danny Thompson on bass. They follow his every subtle and explosive turn with effortless energy. --Ray Francis Kasten
Top customer reviews
* The song "Phantasmogoria In Two" appears on record 1 side 1
twice in a row (tracks 3 and 4)
* The applause after "The Earth Is Broken" fades out, only to
abruptly return to full volume just before "Who Do You Love" starts
* The pressing is off center on one side
Manifesto's non-existant quality control has ruined what should have been a great vinyl reissue.
The performances are impassioned and Buckley's vocals are frequently astounding. No more so than on his magical cover of Fred Neil's "Dolphins". When he starts singing the song "Sometimes I think about Saturdays child" you know are listening to something very special (of course it helps that it is a great song). I never get tired of listening this performance.
The CD's come with some interesting notes by Lee Underwood which are well worth reading.
Lets hope that one day all of Tim's recordings will be remixed and rediscovered for all to hear.
Ironically this 2 hour complete recording of Buckley's first ever British gig was never intended for release and the tapes remained lost until 15 years after Buckley's death. Thank heaven they were found because this album is essential listening for any Tim fan, or indeed anyone who loves music.
Most of the songs are from Buckley's first three albums, although there are several unreleased songs and two songs that later turned up on Blue Afternoon and Sefronia. All the songs are much better here than in their studio versions (with the possible exception of the opener Buzzin' Fly), the arrangements are spare but gorgeous and Tim's voice has never sounded better - a rich, soaring, beautiful instrument of unparalleled power and subtlety. In addition the whole set is beautifully recorded.
Of the unreleased songs Troubadour is the highlight. It's a fine companion piece to the preceding Hallucinations and as fine a song as Buckley wrote in his early phase. There are some odd moments too - Strange Feelin' and Carnival Song are almost completely different songs to the studio recordings with the same names. The first of these is another highlight, incidentally.
With the continued inexplicable absence of Starsailor from the CD shelves, Dream Letter is probably the best Buckley album currently available. An essential purchase for Buckley fans and a fantastic introduction for newcomers. Indispensable.
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