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Tim Buckley – Greetings from L.A. (1972)

January 3, 2015

[Album 363/1001]Tim_Buckley_-_Greetings_From_L.A.

To research or not to research?  That is the question.

Before listening to an album, I sometimes wonder whether ignorance is bliss or whether some background info will lead to a better listening experience.

With Greetings from L.A., I knew Tim Buckley shared DNA with his talented son Jeff but I also remembered seeing the word ‘estranged’ pop up in an article at one point.  Not wanting to dwell on the genetic connection, I was reluctant to investigate much further.

Much like Jeff, Tim died tragically young.  Based on minimal research (looking at the album write-ups in the 1001 book), I knew Tim had a trio of albums on the list and that this record was his final entry.

And off I went.

Alas, I think for maximum appreciation in this case, additional research would likely be beneficial.  I’d imagine hearing his catalogue in chronological order would also add to the experience.

Musically, Greetings from L.A. is fine, but jumping in under-informed as I did, it doesn’t feel significant as a stand-alone disc.

I was expecting folky and it ended up being more funky.  Early Buckley adopters may have felt betrayed by this transformation (à la Dylan in ’65), others may have been pleased to see him exploring new territory.  As an indifferent observer, I thought, oh that’s different from what I expected and was neither, to borrow another Buckley album title, Happy (nor) Sad about it.

Even listening without the proper context, overall the experience is a net positive, as I’m left wanting to hear more from the Tim Buckley discography.  Unlike his son’s frustratingly small recording output, the impressively prolific Tim somehow managed to release 9 studio albums in 8 years.  So for inspiring me to delve deeper into his catalogue, even beyond those included among the 1001, I’d say that makes Greetings from L.A. a success.

I’ll do more homework in advance next time!

From → 1970s

  1. Tim’s careers really is one of the most unpredictable in popular music. As you point out, Greetings is a funky raunchy almost raucous affair. The first album is, indeed, very folky but thereafter Tim followed his own muse.

    While I love the jazz inflected Blue Afternoon, some revere the confrontingly experimental pair of Lorca and Starsailor (the latter includes, ironically, the sublime romanticism of ‘Song to the Siren’).

    The last two albums are patchy (which is being quite generous).

    Still, all things considered, a catalogue worth some aural research. Good listening!

    • When I saw 9 albums in 8 years (and 3 making the 1001 list) I wondered if the quality kept up with the quantity – sounds like it fell of the pace a bit with the last 2.
      I like that word patchy, I will borrow that the next time I come across a record I would have otherwise called uneven/inconsistent!

  2. I dig this one a lot. Really is a splendid album. I’d recommend further listening – the unpredictable nature of Tim’s output makes it incredibly rewarding when you find yourself immersed in it.

    • Unpredictable sounds good to me – there are some artists where I like the consistency but here I like the idea of not knowing what you’re going to get from record to record!

      • Yeah … close your eyes and go with it, man. It’s mostly wonderful …

  3. Always meant to get to this artist. I have Jeff, but not Tim…

    • So far this is the extent of my Tim listening – as long as you’ve got Grace though, that’s the important thing!

  4. Embarrassed to say I dont own/haven’t heard any Tim or Jeff at all. I do have a Lord Buckley LP if that helps?

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