Thursday, May 31, 2007
Reissue-issue- The legacy of the departed
Last week marked the release of the post-post-posthumous release of Jeff Buckley's "So Real-The Songs of Jeff Buckley". The disco includes selections from Buckley's masterpiece "Grace" and the unfinished (also posthumous) release "Sketches for my Sweetheart The Drunk"....oh and also one (count em) one unreleased track.
I'm a big advocate of the advancement of Jeff Buckley's legacy. Buckley had only one living release & the lion's share of his recognition has come after his death. The problem with a release like "So Real" is that, not only is it nothing new, it takes Buckley's music out of it's original context & without any artistic control & when you consider that he literally only released one album in it's entirety as it was intended to be heard, doesn't taking his other unfinished album, pairing it with "Grace" and hitting shuffle on your itunes, kind of cheapen the experience?
It's rare that an artist releases something that could be called a "definitive release" & that's admittedly why it is indeed valuable to release a Greatest Hits album, that's the starter album.... Allman Bros Band has zillions of albums....my introduction to them as somebody who came up too young to have learned about them at the time they came out was "The Best of The Allman Brothers"... a fine record & certainly worth of a listen. But Jeff Buckley HAS the definitive release in "Grace" nobody would ever argue that. It's literally the only full length that received the blessing of an artist. "So Real" even addresses this silently with the fact that 10 of the 14 songs on the record are lifted directly from the album versions of "Grace". Why did they put it out? It's as if Sony hit shuffle of "Grace" and tipped in a couple of randoms they downloaded off of Limewire!! Sony owes it to Buckley to prolong & extend his legacy however it needs to be done intelligently & respectfully. A lack of resourcefullness on the part of the label paired with a desire to further cash in on their deceased artist has resulted in a pillage & bastardization of one of the greatest recordings ever produced. So Real lends no insight to the expanse of a career on the verge of, nor does it offer anything new. Unfortunately for Sony, telling people 15 years later..."Hey...you should really go listen to Grace....it's still amazing & still ahead of it's time" just doesn't make the quick cash that repackaging it and changing the name.
Elliott Smith's latest posthumous release "New Moon" is a different animal all together from So Real. With a far longer recording career, Smith had plenty of choice releases to choose from & this Kill Rockstars Records release features rarities & fully unreleased material recorded between 1994 & 97, some of Smith's most productive years. A great addition for the hardcore Elliott Smith fan. It's interesting that the label actually has resisted to put out a Best of retrospective for Elliott Smith, because in all reality, given the seven certified elliott smith releases, there are plenty of choices & for a person who is possibly unfamiliar with Smith, a best of might actually be a decent way to learn about an artist with a great catalog.
If interested in any of the above, my listening recommendations are:
Jeff Buckley- "Grace" Probably somewhere in my top five albums of all time. If you've never heard Grace, stop reading this right now & go get it. end of story. completley brilliant record from a creative genius.
Jeff Buckley- "Live at Sine" Buckley has tons of live material available, however Sine offers an intimate and insightful look with an expansive 2 disc recording from a performance at the New York City's Legendary "Sine". Armed with only an electric guitar and his incredible voice, "SIne" gives insight to Buckley's passions, humor, personality & inner demons.
Elliott Smith "Either/Or"- Elliott Smith's Lo-key, lo-fo introspect. A tremendous record that undoubtedly went onto influence many a toegazing indie rocker. Brilliant harmonies & some pretty darn eerie lyrics here.
Elliott Smith "XO"- My personal favorite Elliott Smith album. An absolute abundance of classic songs here that show Elliott Smith both in his songwriting prime & fully maturing as an artist. tremendous record.