Jeff Buckley
Live at Sin-é (Legacy Edition)


5.0
classic

Review

by Nick Butler EMERITUS
January 14th, 2005 | 55 replies | 13,727 views


Release Date: 2003 | Tracklist


Jeff Buckley - Live At Sin-E
Jeff Buckley - Vocals, Guitar
Released 2003.
Columbia Records.
Recorded 1993 at Sin-E, NYC.
This album is more essential than Grace.

There, that got your attention, didn't it?

If you don't know much about Jeff Buckley, you probably aren't that in touch with the music world. Recently voted 2004's biggest influence by MOJO, and included in Total Guitar's 50 Guitarists To Look Out For This Year (ironically), Jeff's stature just grows and grows. He died in 1997, in the Mississippi river, while singing along to Led Zeppelin II. He was 31.

Radiohead, Coldplay, Starsailor, Travis, Elbow, Tom McRae, Badly Drawn Boy, and even Page And Plant's reunion album all owe him a debt, to mention but a few. This album, originally a 4-track EP, was released last year in honour of this. A similar treatment of the seminal Grace is planned later this year. I can't wait.

So, to the album. After all, the history doesn't affect the music within, does it? Actually, this album, I'd say, is an exception. Because what this album gives you - besides amazing music - is an ambience that, when your eyes are closed and you're lying in the dark, headphones on, makes you feel like you are there. Sitting at a table, drinking your coffee, watching one of the most amazing talents the music world has ever seen. It practically gives you his presence; something the world was sorely robbed of, and sorely misses.

This album is a collection of recordings from July and August 1993. The recordings took place in a small NYC cafe named Sin-E - hence the name. As you can probably guess, this lends the recordings an immediate intimacy. This ambience makes the entire album an event; a special treat. It's very hard to pick highlights, simply because every song is wrapped in this. They are all amazing songs - a great songwriter with great taste, our Jeff - but Jeff's vocals (powerful and beautiful as ever), Jeff's guitar (raw, bluesy), and the air of a man paying tribute to his idols while on the path to becoming one himself, envelops everything.

The monologues are key to this album. Often, interludes are an album's low point, being utterly skippable and only funny the first time. Here, they offer insight into his personality. Many of them are also songs themselves - I'm A Ridiculous Person is a Kwaali version of Smells Like Teen Spirit; Reverb, The Doors is a snippet of The End with changed lyrics (Jeff? Yes, Sony....); Fabulous Time For A Guinness is those words to the tune of Van Morrsion's Moondance. The crowd and the sound of coffee being poured, cups being clattered, can also be heard in the background here. Often, he speaks to members of the crowd.

Jeff's musicianship is one of the highlights of the album, too. With a backing band stripped away, all we have is Jeff and his guitar. And man, can he play the thing. Check Je N'en Connais Pas La Fin - played without a capo. Or the intro to Strange Fruit - a solo played while tuning up. He was an inventive improviser, in the vein of Jimi Hendrix. And, as anyone to learn on of his songs will know, his use of chord inversions and extensions to create broken, fractured, yet beautiful melodies was unsurpassed, even by his most direct influence, Johnny Marr of The Smiths.
My personal highlight songs - although as I mentioned, all are highlights - are as follows.

Be Your Husband -
I'm a massive Nina Simone fan, and this is probably her best-known song. There's no guitar on this track, just Jeff and (I believe) the crowd clapping the beat. His voice really gets a workout here, both technically and emotionally. And, of course, it's a great song.

Lover, You Should've Come Over -
Simply because it is a raw and passionate version of my favourite Buckley song.

Strange Fruit -
Billie Holiday's song that changed America. If you have never heard this song, get yourself a version of it. It's the most powerful song about racist oppression ever written. Jeff pays the song the respect it deserves while delivering another great vocal performance. And, of course, there's that intro solo.

Night Flight -
Taken from Physical Graffiti, Jeff is very playful here, and he really gets into the song. You can easily imagine the crowd dancing. If I was there, I certianly would have been nodding my head.

Yeh Jo Halka Halka Saroor Hai -
Who's heard of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan? Jeff has - he speaks glowingly of him in the preceding monologue. This is a highlight for Jeff singing in a foreign language, and for the guitar, which features a simply stunning progression.

If You See Her, Say Hello, I Shall Be Released -
When Jeff covers a Dylan song, you always get the feeling the two were meant for each other. The best songwriter ever, and arguably the best singer, creating works of astounding beauty. Jeff's versions almost always surpass the Dylan originals and that's not an easy task. IYSHSH, for my money, is Dylan's best song, taken from Blood On The Tracks. Intensely personal and emotionally candid, Jeff renders it even more so. I Shall Be Released wasn't a Dylan song I would have classed as a favourite, until I heard it here. Now, it's bettered only by If You See Her....., and Tangled Up In Blue. All Dylan fans need to hear these two versions.

Je Ne'n Connais Pas La Fin -
You'll know this song, just not by name. Everyone does. It's also called L'Hymne L'Amor sometimes. Jeff's version is beautiful and nostalgic, again surpassing the original. And the guitars are an absolute treat again - this song is great fun to play, but MAN is it hard!
I commenced by saying that this album is more essential than Grace. I would recommend anyone interested buy Grace first; but thanks to this album, I very rarely listen to Grace, and when I do, I go straight for Dream Brother and So Real, the only Buckley tracks not here. This album is perfection for when you just want to sit and the dark and float away to a better place. That place is Sin-E. Before I die, I will visit it and pay my respects, and give myself a clearer picture of just what those magical nights must have been like.

The only things I can say are wrong with this album are these.
- It was very expensive when I bought it - something like 22.99. (Average album here is 13.99) And it's probably hard to download the whole thing - and believe me, you want the whole thing. Then again, you get more than 2 and a half hours of music for your money....
- I would have liked to see a Smiths cover make the album. How Soon Is Now, or I Know It's Over would have been amazing. But then, I can't think of a track I'd drop to make room for it. The album flows so well - despite being recorded over a series of nights, it feels and runs like one evening.

And that's it. Everything else is wonderful. I'd say this is the best live album ever, surpassing The Roots Come Alive!, James Brown Live At The Apollo, How The West Was Won, and Get Yer Ya Ya's Out!. And were there no Buckley originals, I'd say it was the best covers album ever, too.

5/5. Without a single doubt.



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user ratings (110)
Chart.
4.4
superb
other reviews of this album
mike197 (5)
A stripped down, up-close and personal glimpse at the genius of Jeff Buckley, this album features an...


Comments:Add a Comment 
Iai
Emeritus
July 26th 2004



3553 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

Two of the covers have been labelled as being originally by ??? - please comment and tell me if you know who they were originally by. I wasn't sure.

Distorted Vision
July 27th 2004



184 Comments


More essential than Grace eh?

You convinced me to most definitely check this out soon. Fantastic review man.

PS What's the DVD like? Kick Out The Jams on there makes it even more attractive.

moderaterock222
July 27th 2004



121 Comments


Ive got to say that was a fantastic review, i havent even heard this CD but i feel the need to now. Unlike other reviews you may actually spark some discussion. I cant comment on the 'more essential than grace'..as i havent heard this, and without grace would this CD exist today?..
Anyway, great review:thumb:

Oli_m
July 27th 2004



16 Comments


I don't think its as essential as Grace (Grace is one of those albums that should be in every house), but, like you said, the monologues give a great insight into Jeff's personality, and the cover show the vastness of his musical background, giving insight into where all his great songs came from.

I have this album, and have to say it is great. Its amazing what jeff Buckley could achieve alone, with a guitar.

Distorted Vision
July 27th 2004



184 Comments


[QUOTE=moderaterock222]I cant comment on the 'more essential than grace'..as i havent heard this, and without grace would this CD exist today?..[/QUOTE]

I'm pretty sure this was recorded in 93, a year before he recorded Grace, so really the Grace songs evolved from the versions on here.

moderaterock222
July 27th 2004



121 Comments


Yeah but would this CD have been released without Grace having been released? Without grace im fairly certain Jeff wouldnt have the fan base he does now.

Distorted Vision
July 28th 2004



184 Comments


Oh right, well I don't think half of the Buckley post-humous catalogue would have been released without Grace being as successful as it was. If he didn't release Grace half of us probably wouldn't have heard him, he's be 'Tim Buckley's son who did a few live recordings'.

moderaterock222
July 28th 2004



121 Comments


Yeah, exactly.

Grace was his first and last completed studio album, so therefore i think it just gives the listener an idea of what jeff wanted to be about, therefore in my opinion Grace is more essential but its only an opinion.

Distorted Vision
July 28th 2004



184 Comments


True, but I think maybe what the threadstarter was trying to say is that this recording gives a better representation of Jeff's music to new listeners.

But I haven't heard it, so I can't back him up.

Iai
Emeritus
August 9th 2004



3553 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

[QUOTE=Distorted Vision]True, but I think maybe what the threadstarter was trying to say is that this recording gives a better representation of Jeff's music to new listeners.

But I haven't heard it, so I can't back him up.[/QUOTE]

What I meant was that, although I think Grace is a better introduction to Jeff's music, once you buy this you'll rarely listen to Grace again. Well, I definately don't, except for So Real and Dream Brother. (think I put that in my review, but never mind.)

Tapeworm
August 16th 2004



118 Comments


I'm pretty sure he was 31 when he died. Or he was due to turn 31 that year.

That was an awesome review. I have been picking up and marvelling the copy at my local store for ages, but not buying it because it is AU$45. I'ma go buy it.

Iai
Emeritus
August 16th 2004



3553 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

[QUOTE=Tapeworm]I'm pretty sure he was 31 when he died. Or he was due to turn 31 that year.

That was an awesome review. I have been picking up and marvelling the copy at my local store for ages, but not buying it because it is AU$45. I'ma go buy it.[/QUOTE]

Hmm....now that you mention that it makes more sense. He might have been 28 when Grace was released, and I got mixed up. Or Tim Buckley died at that age.

If you've got AU$45, it's worth it, but don't go mugging no old folks now. :thumb: That's actually cheaper than I got it for. xe.com tells me I paid about AU$60 for it.

pookie
August 21st 2004



2 Comments


[QUOTE=Iai]Because what this album gives you - besides amazing music - is an ambience that, when your eyes are closed and you're lying in the dark, headphones on, makes you feel like you are there. Sitting at a table, drinking your coffee, watching one of the most amazing talents the music world has ever seen. It practically gives you his presence; something the world was sorely robbed of, and sorely misses.
[/QUOTE]
Amen! Preach on, I couldnt agree more with everything you wrote. I finally got this release about a month ago. One of the tracks that Ive been looping like a mutha, is "Calling You". I believe this may have been originally performed by Jevetta Steele. Can anyone confirm or correct this?

btw, hi Im a newbie. This is my first post, please be gentle with me.

~ Pookie

RollerQueen
August 21st 2004



209 Comments


^^^Can't help you there. Try googling it.

This album is spectacular. It really is a testament to his skill as a guitarist and solo performer. It is certainly worth the $30 I paid for it. I agree with "Strange Fruit" and, being a skinny white guy, Jeff does an excellent job of not putting the song to shame given his situation and race. This cd and your review make me smile.

Happymeal
August 21st 2004



330 Comments


I wanted to buy Grace, but I heard it on his site already..anyways, I'm gonna save for this one as well. Too bad there's no So Real or Everybody Here Wants You.. oh well, Jeff Buckley's great anyways, thanks for convincing me to buy it.:D

Tapeworm
August 21st 2004



118 Comments


^ ^ ^ He hadn't written those two tracks yet.

I got this the other day, and in it's entirity, it freaked me out more than an album has for a while. An absolutely incredible album. If you don't own it, you suck.

pookie
August 22nd 2004



2 Comments


[QUOTE=Tapeworm]If you don't own it, you suck.[/QUOTE]
:lol:

lilsolsman
August 22nd 2004



14 Comments


wow... i only heard the first 3 songs (i'm listening to it now for the first time) and i think it's awesome already....

Happymeal
August 22nd 2004



330 Comments


[QUOTE=Tapeworm]^ ^ ^ He hadn't written those two tracks yet.[/QUOTE]

I didn't know that. My mistake.:p

Oh well, at least I won't be sucking for a month. I'm gonna buy it before school starts.

Iai
Emeritus
August 22nd 2004



3553 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

[QUOTE=-LilSolsman-]wow... i only heard the first 3 songs (i'm listening to it now for the first time) and i think it's awesome already.... [/QUOTE]

Let me know what you think of the whole thing. :thumb:



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