Review Summary: Creative peak in Buckley's folk rock period
After dropping out of college in 1965, Tim Buckley started frequenting and performing at various Los Angeles folk-rock venues which eventually landed him a record deal with Elektra.
His first, self titled album was released in the following year to mixed reviews. The album was produced by Elektra’s Jac Holzman and Paul Rothchild and included string arrangements by Jack Nitsche proving that Elektra had big plans for Buckley. Buckley himself however was disappointed by how the album turned out, maybe being a bit too middle of the road for his taste.
On follow up “Goodbye and Hello” a lot of things fell into place; first and foremost Tim found his true voice that turned out to be capable of electrifying audiences using both the lower registers as well his very distinctive falsetto. Furthermore, high school friend, lyricist and musical collaborator Larry Beckett also progressed, resulting in overall better songs (half of the songs on this album are credited Buckley/Beckett) with more profound lyrics addressing issues like war, drugs and love, not unlike many other quintessential late sixties bands.
Stylewise the album is still rooted in folk rock, but the excellent opening song “No Man Can Find The War” immediately reveals that this album is going to be a more focussed and ambitious effort than it’s predecessor. The sound effects that bookend the song a bit lame, but it’s a very good song nevertheless. Follow up “Carnival Song” is where Tim’s excellent falsetto voice first surfaces on this album. A pleasant song with interesting lyrics and a bit of an eerie feel, partly caused by the sound effects that do work very well in this song. However, it’s not until “Pleasant Street” that the urgency of this album is truly felt. With it’s dark lyrics about the destructive nature of drugs and it’s beautiful chord progression it’s a two faced monster that has remained a staple in Buckley’s live repertoire throughout his career. Further experimentation follows in “I Never Asked To Be Your Mountain” in which music, lyrics and vocal style are successfully pushed into uncharted territory. Haunting and daring, it’s a great ending of side A of the album.
Side B is a bit quieter and has a more classic folk-rock style with acoustic guitars and piano’s at the forefront and less drums. The 8 minute plus title track is a mixed affair; without a doubt the least exciting song on this album, it feels a bit weird being the title track. The lyrics are what saves this song but the song ultimately comes across as being over ambitious, both lyrically as well as musically. Fortunately, excellent songs like “Once I was” , “Phantasmagoria In Two” and “Morning Glory” expand further on the atmosphere created on side A to create an overall very good album that is so characteristic of the day and age it was created in and as such stands very close to other classics of the summer of love.