Tim Buckley
Happy Sad


4.5
superb

Review

by butcherboy CONTRIBUTOR (110 Reviews)
March 22nd, 2017 | 18 replies


Release Date: 1969 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Everything makes sense...

The genesis of things arrives in sudden punctures that reverberate for all eternity. It is Ziggy Stardust and Music for Airports, it is White Light and Blue Train. To put it more simply, once everything comes to make sense, it stays with you forever.

By 1969, Buckley seemed bored of folk’s traditionalist predilections, and his compositions started growing more complex, compounding time signatures and letting the songs breathe and drift on composite tangents. They grew lengthier and more patient, coming apart and folding in on themselves, with Buckley’s four-octave voice tethering it all down for fear of the whole thing soaring into orbit.

The end of 1970 would see these pilot experiments reach their apogee in “Starsailor,” a work of sheer splendor. Everything on that album would fall into place. The songs were trimmed in length and given unified focus without dulling the music’s now-remarkable range, offering compressed bursts of inordinate beauty.

It all started here however, on this record, and no other singular song captures Buckley’s transition from a mere golden lung into an artist with a vision than “Love From Room 109 At The Islander [On Pacific Coast Highway].” The eleven-minute number opens with an atonal drone that slowly gives way to a restless double-bass and coruscated keys. Buckley throws everything he’s got into “Room 109,” and it all clicks perfectly, jazz guitar slinking around his plaintive vocal. The song shift meters and tones at the 6-minute mark, with harsh strings turning a somber mood, and the pace coming to an exquisite crawl, and Buckley chanting “I feel what you feel,” until it all dissolves into electric crackle. “Room 109,” perhaps better than any other composition of his, displays what it’s like to be entirely submerged in a song, to listen to something that leaves you feeling hollowed and stranded, to be drunk on sound.

Buckley’s early dabbles in proto-ambience (Strange Feelin’) and gauzy funk (Gypsy Woman) at Elektra Studios in LA, ran parallel with the avant-garde pursuits at which Miles Davis was trying his hand at the same time, across the country in New York. “In a Silent Way” in particular plays incredibly well as “Happy Sad’s” comrade-in-arms. It’s strange to think of insurrection as being so delicate and gracefully subdued, but the merit of what these two albums did, turning music onto its head, cutting raw beauty out of rumination, was and is immeasurable.

What Davis had over Buckley was the established reputation of a temperamental genius to carry him through that experimentation without losing touch with his audience or the record companies. As Buckley’s music became more oblique, it lost commercial appeal, causing him to loose footing with those signing his checks, and the people coming to hear that indelible croon. It all came to a head on the now-immortal recording of his performance at The Troubadour in West Hollywood, with Buckley prostrating his voice to incredible highs, the instruments improvising endlessly, and the songs running past the twenty-minute mark. Today, that performance stands as a spearhead of how daring music can become in the right hands. But at the time, its lukewarm reception corroded Buckley’s relationship with Elektra, causing him to switch record companies and briefly subsist less on singing, and more on odd jobs and acting. The last records Buckley would cut before his untimely death would edge closer to candid blue-eyed soul, albums that while no-less affecting, walked a distinctly straighter path.

“Happy Sad” occupies an unequalled space in Tim Buckley’s catalogue. It isn’t his best album, isn’t the most successful or even the most intrepid. It is Sui Generis, the starting point of an artist coming into his own, the ineradicable moment when creation succumbs to evolution, when something becomes everything. It makes sense that it was a member of Frank Zappa’s Mothers of Invention who discovered Buckley and first saw him for all he would become. Genius recognizes its tribe.



Recent reviews by this author
Warm Bodies Warm BodiesCZARFACE and MF DOOM Czarface Meets Metal Face
Rowland S. Howard Pop CrimesMax Roach, Charles Mingus and Duke Ellington Money Jungle
Max Roach Percussion Bitter SweetX-Ray Spex Germfree Adolescents
user ratings (109)
Chart.
4
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
AngryLittleAlchemist
March 22nd 2017


1999 Comments


This is a good review but it is slightly all over the place and I think you should have spent a bit more time on songs. Overall though pos, and you're doing god's work for covering this album

AngryLittleAlchemist
March 22nd 2017


1999 Comments


Honestly though as someone who knows very little about music history this was also greatly appreciated : )

butcherboy
Contributing Reviewer
March 22nd 2017


7599 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Thanks! You're right, it's a bit jumpy.. I was trying to describe more just how beautiful this fucking album is.. And i didnt mention Buzzin' Fly!

Digging: Abwarts - Amok Koma

Frippertronics
Staff Reviewer
March 22nd 2017


17145 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Fuckin yes man



Tim had a near-flawless discog barring the debut and the post Starsailor stuff, which isn't too shabby either

SandwichBubble
March 22nd 2017


6304 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Yay, finally a review for this!

Digging: Fat Tulips - Starfish

FadedSun
March 22nd 2017


1814 Comments


I honestly get confused between all the artists that have the last name "Buckley"

NorthernSkylark
March 22nd 2017


8751 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Sweet review bucher! Much appreciated. What's your favorite album of his?

Digging: Ultravox - Vienna

butcherboy
Contributing Reviewer
March 22nd 2017


7599 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

it's tied between this one and blue afternoon.. so lonely has always been my favourite of his.. i do love lorca as well.. both the poet and the album.. haha

NorthernSkylark
March 22nd 2017


8751 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Yeah my favorite so far is blue afternoon too, but I've yet to immerse myself in both Lorca's, I must admit.

TheIntruder
March 22nd 2017


348 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I'm glad there is finally a review for this. Nice review man. Pos.

butcherboy
Contributing Reviewer
March 22nd 2017


7599 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

cheers, guys.. this one needed a review..

SomeGuyDude
March 22nd 2017


277 Comments


He should have stuck to music instead of making webcomics.

e210013
March 23rd 2017


1841 Comments


Nice see this reviewed here.

TwigTW
March 23rd 2017


3081 Comments


I thought nothing would beat Starsailor in my book, but I'm listening to this for the first time now and it's giving it a run for the money.

DoofusWainwright
Contributing Reviewer
March 24th 2017


18492 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Good review, pos, I haven't read too much about Tim so learnt a few things here too.



My opinion on the album? I think this IS my favourite Tim Buckley. Not by a lot, but just enough to get the win.

TwigTW
March 24th 2017


3081 Comments


definitely agreeing with that

butcherboy
Contributing Reviewer
March 24th 2017


7599 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

@doofus - thanks.. I think the most I accomplished with the review is get through it without mentioning Jeff Buckley.. Not that he isn't fantastic

GhandhiLion
April 9th 2017


1568 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

bump

Digging: Sun City Girls - Grotto of Miracles



You have to be logged in to post a comment. Login | Create a Profile





STAFF & CONTRIBUTORS // SITE FORUM // CONTACT US

Bands: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


Site Copyright 2005-2017 Sputnikmusic.com
All Album Reviews Displayed With Permission of Authors | Terms of Use | Privacy Policy