Tim Buckley
Starsailor


5.0
classic

Review

by Aaron W. STAFF
January 5th, 2017 | 78 replies


Release Date: 1970 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Oblivion carries me on his shoulder.

There's a time and a place for everything in life. Nothing in specific, but in the world of music, everything comes down to chance and opportunity. One will never know exactly when their time will come, but there’s a defining moment that will signal a change upon the shimmering horizon. Tim Buckley’s shining opportunity came with a change in labels in 1969. Following rather poor sales for the jazzy Happy Sad and the abstract freak folky Lorca, Buckley was approached by Straight, a Warner sub-label co-ran by guitar maestro Frank Zappa and Herb Cohen, to record for them. This not only allowed Buckley full reign to record whatever the hell he wanted, but also enabled Buckley’s long suppressed talents to fully emerge and take root. This was Buckley’s golden opportunity, something that came once in a lifetime. Following the recording of the relaxed, lounge jazz-tinged Blue Afternoon, Buckley recruited a band consisting mostly of Zappa’s Mothers of Invention (Lee Underwood, Bunk and Buzz Gardner), percussionist Maury Baker and bassist John Balkin. This lineup formed for this occasion would play a major part in the creation of what is potentially Buckley’s finest (and most tripped-out) hour, the spacey bizzare avant-jazz freak folk acid trip Starsailor.

Trying to even understand how Starsailor came to be is a full thesis waiting to written, a whole expose on what was going through Buckley’s mind in 1970. It’s difficult to comprehend the thought process behind such an avant-garde work and honestly, trying to make any sense of it doesn’t do the music proper justice. There are several one word descriptors that can accurately give a vague idea as to what the album represents – “sexual”, “insane”, “cryptic”, hypnotic”, and “dissonant”. These all fit within the context of Starsailor and its nine songs. The lead off ”Come Here Woman” and ”Monterey” just oozes wild sensuality amidst the strained organs and tight guitar riffs, all complimented by a ridiculously good rhythm section that holds the entire thing together. The lone segment of what comes close to sobriety, Buckley’s ode to his love, ”Song to the Siren”, marks a brief reprieve from the constant assault the listener will slowly come to love. A major player in what defines Starsailor is Buckley’s evolution not only as a guitarist but as a vocalist as well. Buckley has always been skilled at both playing and singing, however his progress allowed him to implement his voice as an instrument, making for truly horrifying moments where he loses himself among the chaos and excitement.

The compositions all feature one constant for the most part, with repetition playing a part in making several of the songs featured here greatly alluring. There’s moments where Buckley has truly gone off the deep end with tracks such as the haunting vocal to ”Starsailor”, the blaring horns that help drive ”The Healing Festival”, and the vigorous shrieking of ”Jungle Fire”. Tension is ever present in the gaps between the havoc on the slowly unfurling ”I Woke Up” and the introduction to the pseudo-funk riffage of album closer ”Down by the Borderline”, yet the long-building tension never ceases and continues to linger even after the album is long over, its nervosity remaining with its listener as a parting gift. Starsailor’s cover alone is like a final warning to those who come across it, with Buckley’s squinted grin being a daring glance to those who consider giving the album a spin. The risk is worth taking, not only for the mind bending experience that it is, but for the aural representative for the moment in time when Tim Buckley's time had finally come to really let loose. Never again would he reach this type of peak with his descent into drug abuse, and it's tragic to even think about the wasted potential he displayed during this period. At the least, we should be glad Buckley had the chance to express himself, right?



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user ratings (169)
4.1
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
Frippertronics
Staff Reviewer
January 5th 2017


19208 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

you caught me staring

you gently tease me

and turn away



Starsailor: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PZvag-XPCHQ

"I Woke Up" (live on "The Show", 1970): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J2GEzbg-YfU

"Come Here Woman" (live on "The Show", 1970): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jjdK-jUiOI4

"Song to the Siren" (live on The Monkees, 1968): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vMTEtDBHGY4

FullOfSounds
January 5th 2017


15772 Comments


You're on a roll huh

Frippertronics
Staff Reviewer
January 5th 2017


19208 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

am i

50iL
January 5th 2017


5277 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Awesome album, good review. Pos.

ALA recd this to me back in the day. Ah, good memories.

Digging: Chris Potter - Ultrahang

Frippertronics
Staff Reviewer
January 5th 2017


19208 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

considering I rec'd this to him, it has come full circle

Asdfp277
January 5th 2017


21822 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

crazy hair

Frippertronics
Staff Reviewer
January 5th 2017


19208 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

crazier voice

Asdfp277
January 5th 2017


21822 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

he cute but i didn't like it smh :[

Frippertronics
Staff Reviewer
January 5th 2017


19208 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

as long as you don't say Jeff is better, it's cool



(pro tip: Jeff isn't better)

CaptainDooRight
January 5th 2017


4205 Comments


That sheep vibrato tho

Digging: Sarcasm (SWE) - Esoteric Tales of the Unserene

Frippertronics
Staff Reviewer
January 5th 2017


19208 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

it pierces my soul

CaptainDooRight
January 5th 2017


4205 Comments


this is actually really inspiring bro

I really appreciate you reviewing this eclectic music

Frippertronics
Staff Reviewer
January 5th 2017


19208 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

it's all 'bout the music, man

CaptainDooRight
January 5th 2017


4205 Comments


Added to my phone to jam this thoroughly tomm while gaming/work

Frippertronics
Staff Reviewer
January 5th 2017


19208 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

yeah if you dig this, Lorca's like the opposite end of the spectrum - sheds the wild mind bending compositions for more abstract stuff

TheMrAlexK
January 5th 2017


11152 Comments


Fripp pushing for contributor ?

Frippertronics
Staff Reviewer
January 5th 2017


19208 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

it's a mystery



(tho I've really been meaning to get reviews out for a good deal of stuff and this was one I wanted to do since last summer)



Marble Index incoming.

Asdfp277
January 5th 2017


21822 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

he gon have to review more recent stuff to get a promotion me thinks, but he's got a good chance

CaptainDooRight
January 5th 2017


4205 Comments


Cool I just added Lorca too :]

Frippertronics
Staff Reviewer
January 5th 2017


19208 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

"review more recent stuff"



since the last year, i've been doing mostly recent stuff however there's not been much in the past few weeks considering the year just started (the new Flaming Lips is a high possibility)



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