January 11, 2010
JEFF BUCKLEY Grace Around The World (Sony Legacy)
In the 15 years since the original release of the late Jeff Buckley’s lone completed studio CD Grace, many have mused on the significance of his music and what could have been. The posthumously released Live In Chicago DVD (2000) was among the first to effectively capture Buckley’s ethos in the context of a singular event. Grace Around The World manages to sidestep the typical pitfalls of record-company attempts to skeletonize material from gone-too-soon performers, largely because of the startlingly refreshing lack of pretense in Buckley’s performances and interviews.
Buckley’s jangling, edgy, Eastern-influenced blues-rock compositions and whistle-register falsetto seemed made for arenas (the haunting, ethereal “Dream Brother” comes to mind), but by most accounts his music was best experienced in the club settings featured in Around The World.
With a combination of footage shot for MTV and nightclub ceiling cameras, the quality and coherence of the project is an engineering and curatorial triumph, as all but one of the songs of the original CD are featured. Though an upcoming feature film on Buckley’s life assures there will be subsequent releases of “new” material, Around The World certainly stands up as both a respectful epitaph to the artist and an introduction
to the uninitiated.
Juba Kalamka is a founding member of the queer hip-hop group Deep Dickollective and creator of the label Sugartruck Recordings.
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